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Leaders in lodging industry push for more hotel workers as tourists return to Portland

Leaders say higher than normal wages and career advancement opportunities are among the reasons to join the industry.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Amongst a sea of people in downtown Portland on Thursday was the McShane family.

"Just trying to see all the sights," Eileen McShane said. "Fit it all in."

Visiting from Scotland, the McShanes told KGW they have been impressed by the Rose City. The International Rose Test Garden and Japanese Gardens have been among the family's favorite stops.

"It's lovely," McShane said. "It's really nice. Traveled to lots of big cities but this is a real .. a nice vibe to it."

While some may find the McShane's visit to Portland puzzling due to the city's homeless crisis, gun violence epidemic and civil unrest, local hospitality and business leaders are not at all surprised.

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"It feels different," said Megan Conway of Travel Portland. "The Portland magic is back."

Conway said at a press conference Thursday that room demand at hotels has increased 27% over the same period last year. Hotel occupancy, she says, has increased 17%.

"The city is buzzing again," added Jeff Miller, also of Travel Portland. "I can't be more excited to walk our streets, see our tourists enjoying the city and landscape, the parks, and certainly our restaurants."

The problem now is that hoteliers are struggling to find workers. KGW has learned there are hundreds upon hundreds of open jobs at local hotels.

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Chip Rogers, President and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, says there is no better time to get into the industry. He touts higher than normal wages, better benefits, flexibility and career advancement opportunities.

"This is the time to come join our industry," Rogers said. "We desperately need people to join this industry because consumers are back. They want to stay in hotels again. They're enjoying travel again and if we can serve them like we did pre-pandemic it'll help your local economy."

If anybody is hoping the local hotels can bolster staffing, it is the McShanes. They pledge to return to Portland in the future.

"It's nice and friendly and relaxed," McShane said. "It's really nice."

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