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Business and Economy

Maine Businesses Already Feeling Consequences Of Visa Complications

Robert F. Bukaty
Maine Public
In this June 4, 2010 file photo, tourists stroll through Bar Harbor, Maine.

In what is becoming an annual problem, visa complications are forcing some Maine businesses to consider curtailing services as the tourist season gets underway in Maine.

At issue are H-2B visas, which many seasonal businesses in towns like Bar Harbor use to help fill temporary summer positions that they cannot fill with domestic workers. This year, the federal government capped those visas at 66,000, far less than the number of requests it received. The feds agreed to raise the cap by 30,000 last month, but the visas have yet to become available.

Allyson Cavaretta, the sales and marketing director for Ogunquit's Meadowmere Resort, says that has left her business unable to fill a number of positions in its food and beverage department as tourists have begun to flow in. She says that if the resort cannot find workers, it may be forced to stop serving certain meals.

"The ability to say to a customer, 'When you come here, you will experience this,' is really important,” she says. “And it's very difficult for some businesses in Maine, especially our seasonal ones, to answer that question right now."

Greg Dubal, with the trade group Hospitality Maine, says the situation has left some seasonal businesses scrambling for workers as the summer season gets underway.

"I think it's just bubblegum and twine,” he says. “It's like, doing the best that you can, running short, being efficient.”

Dubal says for some businesses, that has meant delayed openings or reducing the number of meals that they are able to serve.