Jobs bank opened for hurricane-stricken tourism workers

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association has created a “jobs bank” to assist industry workers from hurricane-impacted areas to find jobs around the region.

The jobs bank is essentially an online job advisement page on the association’s website. Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association members can post job ads, and priority will be given to applicants in the tourism industry from the jurisdictions that were impacted by hurricanes last September, according to association spokesperson Greta Andzenge.

“We are confident that those employers, who contract with an impacted employee for the season or while their home hotel is under refurbishment, will realize tremendous value in their expertise while helping to mitigate the hardship employees are experiencing,” Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association CEO Frank Comito said of the initiative.

The jobs bank has already assisted “a number” of people from hurricane-impacted areas in the region find new jobs in the U.S. or elsewhere in the Caribbean.

As of Thursday, there were 21 advertisements posted on the jobs bank: 13 at the Sea Islands Resort in Georgia, two from a restaurant in Barbados, one at a hotel in St. Maarten, three from a resort in St. Kitts, one at a resort on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and one at a hotel in Philadelphia.

Mr. Comito said he hopes that the jobs bank will become more than just a platform to help hurricane-impacted workers.

“While the jobs bank has been created to serve an immediate and urgent need, our intention is for it to become the permanent go-to resource for career opportunities at every level in Caribbean hospitality – from line cook to general manager,” he said.

Meanwhile, some of the region’s most prominent hotels and resorts remain closed in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria, which devastated multiple islands in the Eastern Caribbean last September.

The largest hotel in the British Virgin Islands, Rosewood Little Dix Bay Resort, states on its website that it expects to reopen later this year. Little Dix Bay employs more than 300 people.

Similarly, most of the largest hotels on St. Barts are scheduled to open this spring or summer, according to Travel Weekly.

On Anguilla, the Four Seasons Resort is scheduled to open on March 23, the CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa will reopen this summer, and the Belmond Cap Juluca is scheduled to reopen in November, Travel Weekly reported this week. There is no opening date for many other hotels there.

Likewise, there are no reopening dates for many hotels on Puerto Rico. According to statistics from the Caribbean Tourism Organization, airlift there declined by 33 percent in December compared to the previous year, which amounts to more than 162,000 lost airline seats.

However, Mr. Comito noted that most of the Caribbean was not impacted by natural disasters last year, and that the region is “experiencing a strong tourism season and outlook.”

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