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Tourism is New Hampshire’s second-largest industry–if you combine the state’s smart manufacturing and high technology sectors (SMHT). It’s also a clear point of intersection between government and industry, with the state maintaining a number of parks, campgrounds, and historical sites, and nearby businesses in turn catering to visitors’ needs. Given this close relationship, the state provides funding to market New Hampshire to potential tourists. Some of the heaviest marketing efforts are concentrated in Boston, Philadelphia and New York City. Canadian tourists, especially Quebeçois, also make up a sizable number of New Hampshire’s visitors. From the business perspective, “tourism” is a broad term. It encompasses hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail, and arts and entertainment, among other things. So while statewide reports may indicate overall restaurant or retail sales are up or down, the story might be very different in New Hampshire’s main tourism communities. For these places, weather, gas prices, currency exchange rates, and whether they draw visitors for outdoor activities, site-seeing, or shopping could all be factors.Summary provided by StateImpact NH

As Summer Tourism Begins, N.H. Companies Say There Aren't Enough Worker Visas

Robert Garrova for NHPR
Lake Winnipesaukee

Many seasonal businesses in New Hampshire take advantage of temporary worker visas to fill jobs. Now that the busy summer season is here, companies are saying there aren't enough of what are called H-2B visas to go around.

The visas allow international workers to fill non-agriculture jobs like openings for restaurant servers and landscaping workers. The national cap is set at 66,000, though the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to add an additional 69,000.

Karmen Gifford, President of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, says demand is high for these workers this year, and the current limit is hurting companies in her area.  

"It definitely is impacting them,” Gifford says. “The work is here, the weather's been great. We're kind of kicking off the season now and they're doing more with less people.”  

In May, after pressure from Gov. Chris Sununu, Senator Jeanne Shaheen and other lawmakers, DHS announced it would add 15,000 additional H-2B visas. But Gifford says employers are still hustling to fill positions.

“You open up the newspaper, you look at Indeed and the help wanted, and they’re all actively seeking to fill the positions that they have,” Gifford says. “They just can’t find enough employees.”

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