LOS ANGELES -- The hospitality sector's ongoing labor crisis appears to have supplanted Covid as the industry's single biggest challenge moving forward.
During a presentation at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) here on Monday, American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) CEO Chip Rogers highlighted the labor shortage as "the issue that permeates pretty much" every facet of the hotel business today.
"This is an issue that has impacted our ability to get the economy back
to where it needs to be," said Rogers, adding that the hotel industry
has "probably been more impacted by a lack of workers than any other
Rogers cited recent AHLA survey data indicating that 85% of its members said they were
"somewhat or severely understaffed," including 22% who
report that they are "severely understaffed."
The AHLA is lobbying for solutions at the legislative level, pushing for both overall immigration reform and expansion of the country's work visa program.
Although Rogers lauded the Department of Homeland Security's recent decision to nearly double the number of H-2B visas normally available each fiscal year for 2023, he said the increased amount still remains insufficient. (The H-2B visa program allows employers to temporarily hire noncitizens to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the U.S.)
"We're trying to convince members of Congress that the work visa program we have, particularly the H-2B, works exceptionally well; we just need a heck of a lot more," said Rogers. "We need about three to four times more workers than the H-2B visa cap allows right now."