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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

Lifeguard Stands At Laconia Beaches Remain Empty During Seasonal Worker Shortage

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Sara Ernst
/
NHPR
Weirs Beach is one of five beaches in Laconia that have had no lifeguard on duty this summer.

At Weirs Beach in Laconia, a sign in big block letters reads “Warning... Swim at your own risk.” More than halfway through the summer, beach-goers are swimming in the bay, while the lifeguard stand remains empty.

Laconia, like many other towns in the state, is struggling to find seasonal workers. Last year, the city had nine lifeguards on staff for its five public beaches. This year, all thirteen openings have remained vacant. 

Officials with Laconia's Parks and Recreation Department say they're doing everything they can think of to attract applicants for the lifeguard jobs.

“We’ve put ads in the papers, flyers in high schools,” said Amy Lovisek, the Director of Laconia Parks and Recreation. “We’ve done a program where we are reimbursing the potential employees for their certification.” 

Lovisek says the lack of applicants is making the department rethink their hiring strategies.

“Our retirees could totally do the jobs, but they look at a lifeguard position and think ‘oh that’s for the kids.' I disagree with that wholeheartedly” said Lovisek. “I think that’s an age I would like to tap into.” 

Lynn Harkins from Manchester, who was visiting Weirs Beach with her grandson and other family members, thinks the position needs to be filled as soon as possible. 

“Well I think it’s dangerous,” said Harkins. “Honestly some parents don’t keep a real close eye and I’ve seen some kids go out really far before their parents recognize. And we’ve had quite a few drownings already in the New England area.”

City officials say the lack of lifeguards isn't keeping people from visiting the beach.