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Preparing for tourism boom with the help of foreign workers

Business owners in the tourism industry have the opportunity to hire more foreign workers this year than the last two years

OGUNQUIT, Maine — Maine's tourism-related businesses are getting some much-needed help this season.

The Department of Homeland Security announced that 30,000 more H2B visas will be made available to employers across the country to fill seasonal jobs.

It's welcome news for the owner of Patten Grounds Care Incorporated John Patten. Patten employs 65 people; 22 are seasonal workers from Jamaica. 

"I couldn't do it at this level without those 22 guys. They work a lot of hours. They're good workers," says Patten. 

Patten says he struggles to find Americans to work for him.

"It doesn't matter what I pay. I have a very difficult time getting local people to do this work. It's almost impossible."

The Maine Tourism Association issued this statement in response to the news that the federal government would allow more foreign worker visas this year:

The Maine Tourism Association and its members are pleased that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen has added 30,000 visas to the H2B foreign worker program. This can only help the tourism industry in Maine. Tourism is one of the largest industries in Maine employing over 107,000 workers, however, there are simply not enough Mainers to fill all of the jobs our industry creates. The tourism industry in Maine has grown exponentially over the past ten years. The H2B visa program plays a key role in ensuring that we can continue to provide the world-class experience visitors have come to expect. We are appreciative of the role Maine’s congressional delegation played in making this happen.