OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ) — Many tourism and hospitality industries are struggling to find and hire employees, including in Ocean City.

“It’s particularly difficult here because we are a seasonal community,” said Susan Jones with The Ocean City Hotel Motel Restaurant Association. “So, there are literally not enough bodies in our surrounding area to fill all of the seasonal jobs.”

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There are a few reasons for the labor shortage: enticing unemployment benefits, concerns over Covid-19 and a lack of affordable housing.

Ocean City also relies on 4,000 international students who live and work in the community every year. But, many countries and consulates are not yet fully operational and therefore cannot issue visas.

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“We’re trying to get more employees and it’s really difficult because it’s like you’re starting a new business from scratch,” explained Steve Pastusak, Vice President of Jolly Rogers Amusement Parks. He’s now using advertising dollars to recruit employees, adding, “we feel like we’re fighting battles on all fronts.”

Jones explained there will potentially be longer lines and fewer tables at restaurants, not as many amenities at hotels and shorter hours at convenience stores.

“It’s a nationwide issue for the hospitality industry, the industry hit the hardest. It means we have to alter our operations,” said Jones.

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Ocean City and the Maryland Department of Labor are piloting a program called Connecting Marylanders to Maryland Jobs, an effort to train up to 100 people in the hospitality industry and connect them with employers and housing.

Rachel Menitoff