Jul 30 2021
BURLINGTON, Vermont (WCAX) – Vermont continues to gain national attention for having the highest vaccination rate in the country, giving Vermont’s hospitality industry a boost. However, this comes at a cost to visitors, with housing prices rising in some areas.
The nightly rate has increased by about 15-20% over the past two years at the Vermont Hotel in Burlington. Joseph Carton, CEO of Westport Hospitality, owner of the Vermont hotel, says that has been the case for almost everyone in the area. “The volume of people generating is pretty high,” he said. “The rates go up automatically and the competition sort of stays with that.”
Carton said the number of visitors this year is about three times last year. “In the greater Burlington area, the occupancy rate was around 25-30%,” Carton said. “This year it’s in the 80 to 90% range. He also says that events such as weddings postponed from 2020 overlap with this year’s events.
Vermont Tourism and Marketing Commissioner Heather Pelham said the vaccination rate in Vermont 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 that one thing that negatively affects the industry is a shortage of workers. The Vermont hotel is looking for at least 15 more employees. “We have definitely lost customers, there’s no question about it,” Carton said. “Mainly 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 as the shortage of workers creates difficulties, Pelham said everyone in the accommodation industry is still working to provide the best service possible. She was unable to provide an exact number of visitors to the state, but said they would help the economy after last year.
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