BURLINGTON, Vermont (WCAX) – Vermont continues to garner national attention for having the highest vaccination rate in the nation, giving Vermont’s hospitality industry a boost. However, this comes at a cost to visitors, with accommodation prices rising in some areas.
The nightly rate has gone up about 15-20% over the past two years at the Vermont Hotel in Burlington. Joseph Carton, CEO of Westport Hospitality, which owns the Vermont hotel, says that’s the case for almost everyone in the area. “The volume of people generating is quite high,” he said. “Rates go up automatically and the competition kind of stays.”
Carton said the number of visitors this year is about triple that of last year. “In the greater Burlington area, there was about 25 to 30 percent occupancy,” Carton said. “This year it’s around 80 to 90 percent.” He also says that events like postponed weddings from 2020 overlap with events this year.
Vermont Tourism and Marketing Commissioner Heather Pelham said Vermont’s vaccination rate could be another reason for the visitor boom. “Now that people are thinking more about where they travel and how they travel, Vermont is well positioned to provide these visitors with a wonderful experience,” she said.
Carton and others in the industry say just because people want to come to Vermont doesn’t mean they’ll be able to. He said one thing that negatively affects the industry is labor shortages. The Vermont Hotel is looking for at least 15 additional employees. “We’ve definitely lost business, there’s no doubt about that,” Carton said. “Primarily the food and drink side of the business. We operate two restaurants and one is not even open on Mondays and Tuesdays and evenings.
Meanwhile, even though the labor shortage is creating challenges, Pelham said everyone in the accommodation industry is still working to provide the best possible service. She was unable to provide an exact number of visitors to the state, but said they would help the economy after the past year.
As Vermont vax rate nears 84%, state continues campaign
Vermont tourist season heats up as labor issues persist
Rebound in the region’s tourism economy
Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.