Lingering Pandemic Shortages Continue To Cause Problems For Establishments
Continuing staff shortages are causing significant problems for restaurants and hotels in the Cancun and wider Quintana Roo region. Several restaurants have had to postpone their opening until sufficient numbers of personnel have been acquired.
According to the President of the National Chamber of the Restaurant Industry and Seasoned Foods of Quintana Roo (Canirac), restaurants in the state are currently operating with as much as thirty percent less staff than before the pandemic, causing significant problems in their day-to-day functionality.
Three highly-anticipated new restaurants in Tulum and Playa del Carmen have already delayed their opening as they scramble to find qualified staff for both the kitchen and front of house. The decision to postpone is not one taken lightly, as tourism across the world is currently surging as covid restrictions loosen.
When the travel industry effectively ground to a halt during the pandemic, thousands of skilled workers in the Quintana Roo area were forced to find work elsewhere. Many returned to their home states, while others sought more lucrative ventures in cities like Mexico City. Now that demand is soaring once again, many of those lost members of the workforce have no intention of returning, while universities, culinary schools, and other source pools can’t produce new workers at a fast enough rate.
A sad irony is that workers are flooding into areas like Tulum from across the country. These domestic migrants are unable to fill the positions being sought by the multitude of establishments. Restaurants need trained cooks, waiters, and front-of-house staff that can speak a good level of English, while all businesses require administrative workers and management personnel. Those traveling from around Mexico do not fall under this bracket and are likely to be cleaners, porters, or other generally low-paying positions.
The influx of these workers is causing the poverty rate in Tulum to skyrocket, with many living in extremely basic off-grid housing. Many of the salaries equate to around $300 a month, despite individual room rates reaching as high as several thousand a night.
The government is trying to source skilled workers from across the country by launching job fairs in strategic places. Universities with renowned hospitality programs are a major focus, but it is still unlikely to solve problems in the immediate future.
Similar problems are being echoed around the travel industry. The airline industry, in particular, has been riddled with shortages. Pilots, flight attendants, and baggage handlers are all in short supply for the same reasons as restaurant and hotel staff.
Unfortunately, security clearance to work in an airport means the full employment process takes at least three months to complete. Airlines around the world are reporting thousands of cancellations, delays, and lost baggage, as it muddles through the busiest travel period in years.
Cancun has felt the effects of those problems. Tourists from the UK and US are spending days in Quintana Roo with no changes of clothes, flights home are being delayed or canceled, and travel to the Mexican state can be chaotic. Delta, one of the United State’s biggest airlines went as far as advising travelers to change their flights over the fourth of July weekend in an effort to combat the impending problems.
Any travelers heading to Cancun, especially this weekend, should anticipate and prepare for any potential problem. Contacting airlines before departing to ensure no predetermined cancellations can save time and frustration. Tourists should pack extra clothes in their carry-on cases, and if possible, avoid checking a bag. Minimizing connecting flights should be a priority, even if it is the cheaper option.
Once in Cancun or elsewhere in Quintana Roo, acknowledge the lack of staff and help businesses along by not getting too frustrated if service is slower than hoped. Non-English speaking servers may be more frequent and should be dealt with with patience.
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