“We’re absolutely scared to death. We’re going to have one of the best Memorial Day weekends ahead of us, but we don’t have the staff to do it.”

NORFOLK, VA. – The unemployment rate hardly changed in April and is around six percent. But Norfolk hospitality leaders say there are plenty of jobs to be found in hotels.

“We are a gas tank away from 72 million people,” said Kurt Krause, CEO of Visit Norfolk. “And these people want out. They are fed up with being locked inside. ”

Summer 2021 looks promising, but Krause said staffing issues are getting in the way.

“We are absolutely scared to death,” said Krause. “We’re going to have one of the best Memorial Day weekends, but we don’t have the staff to do it.”

Krause said many Norfolk hotels have enough demand to sell out on busy nights but can only meet 80 percent of that demand due to staff shortages, mostly domestic.

The need is to stretch the staff at the Waterside Marriott Thin with 60 vacancies.

“Engineers, managers, front of house, front desk, there is no position that is not currently open,” said Jesse Hemphill, general manager of Waterside Marriott.

Hemphill said, to maintain quality on busy weekends, they sometimes block rooms, even restaurant space.

“More tables are closed because we just can’t get enough food for people in time,” said Hemphill.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics published An unexpected, not exactly convincing job report on Friday. The US created just 266,000 jobs in April. However, the report highlighted notable gains in the hospitality industry.

“There are millions of them that have been eliminated in our industry,” said Krause. “That’s a big increase, but it still doesn’t come to a substantial part that we need.”

There is no time to wait for applications. Krause said they are removing barriers that keep people from applying, such as daycare and more.

“The Hampton Roads Workforce Council is committed to helping with training in our industry,” said Krause.

Hemphill said the pay at his Marriott hotel is between $ 12 and $ 18 an hour. He is desperate for help, but most of all asks the community to be patient.

“If you go to a restaurant and your meal is taking a long time or your room isn’t ready, it’s not bad management, there just aren’t any people to keep up,” said Hemphill.

The shortage extends to the 757.

This week the Virginia Beach Hotel and Restaurant Associations hosted a virtual job fair to try to fill more than 1,000 open positions. The organizers informed us that more than 200 interested applicants were present. You said hotel and restaurant owners are already making offers to potential employees.

“During the day we started the day with 136 registered and 205 attendees attending,” said Stacey Shiflet, Executive Director of VBRA. “It felt really good and really great qualified applicants came through.”

You can find job vacancies for hotels and restaurants throughout the region on the Virginia Restaurant Lodging and Travel Association online job board.