PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Travel Portland says tourist dollars pumped nearly $4 billion into the local economy last year.
While the city experiences a travel boom, local hotels are trying to keep up with the demand.
The Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association said Thursday that the hospitality industry, even with staffing shortages, is still the second largest private industry in the state behind healthcare.
The American Travel & Lodging Association told KOIN 6 that currently, there are 1,000 hotel jobs available in the city of Portland alone. They also said it’s a prime time for people to get into the industry because of higher wages and benefits that are better than ever and more opportunities to climb the ladder.
“We are in the midst of what we hope will be a record-setting year for leisure travel here in the U.S.,” said Chip Rogers, President and CEO of American Travel & Lodging Association.
The manager of the Jupiter Hotel in east Portland, Nick Pearson, said while the hotel is pretty much fully staffed, that’s not the case for many other hotels around town. For people in need of a job or wanting a career change, he says the hospitality industry has many more opportunities than you might think.
“There’s the people you see, your front desk agents, your servers, but behind the scenes, we have accounting teams, sales teams, marketing teams,” Pearson said. You have a lot of opportunity to develop a really wide skillset and once you get your foot in the door take your career in a lot of different directions within our industry.”
The Jupiter Hotel has a program that helps drive business to shops and restaurants in the neighborhood. Guests can show their room keys at certain restaurants and get exclusive discounts. Pearson says about 30 businesses have partnered with the hotel.
“Every year we have more and more businesses that want to participate,” he said. “The feedback we’re getting from our restaurant friends especially is it really is the tourism industry that’s keeping them afloat right now because until people come back to the office and what not the local traffic is just now what it used to be.”
National and local travel industry leaders met in downtown Portland Thursday to discuss how the current travel surge is boosting the Portland economy. Travel Portland says in 2021, visitor spending resulted in $193 million in state and local taxes and supported 27,000 jobs totaling $1.2 billion in wages.
Portland Business Alliance said downtown visitorship is up 52% from last year and the city center has recovered 75% of its pre-pandemic foot traffic.
“That Portland magic is kind of back,” said Megan Conway, Chief Strategy Officer for Travel Portland.