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Updated: January 9, 2023 2023 Forecast

2023 Forecast: Restaurants still rebounding, but strong numbers overall

Photo / Tim Greenway Matt Lewis, president and CEO of HospitalityMaine, says finding employees remains a persistent challenge.

For the most part, Maine’s hospitality industry had a very good 2022, but restaurants are struggling to rebound from the pandemic a bit more than hotels, says Matt Lewis, president and CEO of HospitalityMaine.

The data aren’t in yet, but anecdotally, most members of the state’s nonprofit restaurant and hotel trade group “were quite pleased with the year. We should celebrate the successes — but also be aware there are still challenges,” he adds.

One challenge was a shortage of labor — a problem expected to persist.

“It’s much more difficult to find a full-time staff,” he says. “I think that challenge will persist next year.”

And some companies are still playing catch-up from the pandemic’s damaging effects.

“Not everyone is making the profits they would like,” he says. “But there are improvements.”

As part of the effort to grow the employee pipeline, HospitalityMaine’s apprenticeship program, launched several years ago, is looking to expand enrollment. That includes a partnership with the Maine Department of Corrections to prepare those released from prison for hospitality jobs.

“The apprenticeship program has been wonderful for that,” Lewis says. “I think we’d like to see more people.”

Overall, Lewis says he expects a successful 2023.

“I think summer will be exceptionally strong,” he says. “The data show that people view Maine as a great place to come and our repeat travel percentage is phenomenal.”

He continues, “My expectation is that 2023 will be an excellent year. Our companies have realized that there are ways to provide that famous Maine welcome with fewer employees. But the workforce issue will be around for years to come.”

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