Kentucky tourism being impacted by staffing shortages

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – Tourism has a huge impact in Kentucky.

“In 2019 it produced over $800 million in local and state tax revenue,” said Hank Phillips with the Kentucky Tourism Industry Association.

While people might be ready to drink bourbon, visit museums, or meet some horses, they’ll need a place to stay when they’re in the Bluegrass State. According to Phillips, hotels are struggling because of the labor shortage.

“As rooms are vacated, they don’t have enough housekeepers to turn the rooms to clean the rooms in time for the next round of guests. And so it’s having us affect limiting, for many of hotels, limiting the number of rooms they can have available,” Phillips said.

Phillips said the labor shortage isn’t a new problem. He said it’s something hotels saw before the pandemic, but now as they’re struggling to rehire, the gap is even wider.

Phillips said full recovery for the industry is still far away, and the labor shortage is only making things harder. But he’s optimistic about changes.

“We’re all going to have to be smarter, we’re all going to have to think in terms of incentives and cultural changes in the workplace, as well as government policy that will facilitate more people getting back to work,” Phillips said.

Phillips said so far, no tourist attractions have adjusted operations because of staffing shortages.

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