Its always a sure-fire sign that the busy tourism season is right around the corner: Help wanted.
Hotels and attractions are starting their annual tradition of recruiting workers to ready for what they hope will be a rush of tourists this year.
Its the time, said Stephen Greene, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association. Businesses are getting pumped up and ready for the season, he said.
Job fairs are set -- at least two seeking more than 200 workers are on tap in the next week -- and ads are circulating. Available jobs include housekeepers, maintenance workers, ride attendants, food and beverage workers -- just about any job to help the Grand Strands hospitality industry tick.
NASCAR SpeedPark in Myrtle Beach will be looking for 75 new workers for all departments including admissions, food and rides during its annual job fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the attraction off U.S. 17 Bypass at 21st Avenue North.
Ocean Lakes Family Campground needs between 200 and 250 seasonal workers, though about 100 of those will be returning workers from last summer, said Ron Welchel, vice president of human resources, safety and risk management for The Jackson Companies, which owns Ocean Lakes. The campground aims to find the rest through a job fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 17 at the campgrounds recreation center.
Ocean Lakes needs seasonal golf car attendants, cashiers, bathhouse attendants, recreation workers, cooks and security officers, among other jobs.
As seasonal hiring gets going, business leaders say early signs point to a solid summer tourism season. A later Easter this year, earlier than usual seasonal flights on carriers such as Spirit Airlines and WestJet and a ranking of Myrtle Beach as the third most popular summer destination this year by online booking site FlipKey.com are working in the Grand Strands favor, tourism promoters and some businesses say.
The projections this year are looking really strong, Greene said. Things are looking quite positive.
Ocean Lakes spokeswoman Barb Krumm said RV sales are up nationally and theres been lots of buzz from buyers at recent RV shows, which indicates potential for a strong spring and summer at Ocean Lakes.
If people are investing in campers and RVs, they will use them, Krumm said.
The winter weather thats been so harsh this year also could help Grand Strand tourism, she said.
It seems when it has been a cold, snowy winter people are eager to get to the beach, soak up some spring and summer sun -- they just want to get out of the house and camping is a great way to do that, Krumm said. The sooner the weather is good here the better the season will shape up. School make up days may cause some guests to modify their dates here and there, but we still feel very positive about the upcoming season.
Last year, a rainy, chilly spring hurt businesses along the Grand Strand, though traffic for most picked up later in the summer.
Were anticipating another strong spring break and are hopeful for great weather this season to give the tourists and our park guests a great experience where they can create memories with their friends and families, said Krishelle Hancock, spokeswoman for PARC Management, which owns NASCAR SpeedPark. Hiring the right team will be our first step towards this goal.
State tourism conference next week
Tourism leaders throughout South Carolina -- including some from the Grand Strand -- will gather next week in Hilton Head Island for the annual Governors Conference on Tourism and Travel.
Organized by the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism -- the states main tourism promoter -- the conference will include sessions on marketing, annual awards including Hospitality Employee of the Year and a potential visit by Gov. Nikki Haley, who PRT says is scheduled to attend the awards luncheon Wednesday.
Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or at email@example.com or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_dawnbryant.