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Vermont hotel rooms will cost you more

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 11:58 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2021 at 5:26 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont continues to get national attention for having the highest vaccination rate in the country, which is giving the Vermont hospitality industry a boost. However, that’s coming at a cost to visitors, with the price of lodgings going up in some areas.

The nightly rate has gone up about 15 to 20% in the past two years at Hotel Vermont in Burlington. Joseph Carton, the CEO of Westport Hospitality, which owns Hotel Vermont, says that’s been the case for nearly everyone in the area. “The volume of people that generate is pretty high,” he said. “The rates automatically go up and the competition kind of stays with that.”

Carton said the number of visitors this year is about triple last year’s. “In the greater Burlington area, it was about 25 to 30% occupancy,” said Carton. “This year, it’s in about the 80 to 90% range.” He also says events like postponed weddings from 2020 are overlapping with this year’s events.

Vermont Commissioner of Tourism and Marketing Heather Pelham says the vaccination rate in Vermont could be another reason for the visitor boom. “Now that folks are being more deliberate about where they travel and how they travel, Vermont is well-positioned to give those visitors a wonderful experience,” she said.

Carton and others in the industry say just because people want to come to Vermont, it doesn’t mean they’ll be able to. He said one thing which is negatively affecting the industry is a worker shortage. Hotel Vermont is looking for at least 15 more employees. “We have definitely lost business, there’s no doubt about it,” Carton said. “Primarily the food and beverage side of the business. We operate two restaurants and one isn’t even open Monday and Tuesday and evenings.”

Meanwhile, even though the worker shortage creates difficulties, Pelham said everyone in the lodging industry is still working to provide the best possible service. She wasn’t able to provide an exact number of visitors to the state, but said they will help the economy after the past year.

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