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‘We’re hiring every day’: Grand Strand water parks scale back hours due to staffing shortages

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 8:07 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – Staffing shortages are impacting two Grand Strand attractions just as the summer tourism season gets underway.

In a letter posted on the Wild Water & Wheels and Myrtle Waves Facebook pages, company president Mark Lazarus said the water parks will only be open on weekends through June 18.

Typically, the water parks open seven days a week following Memorial Day.

“During the week, we don’t have any certified lifeguards to be able to man the facility,” Lazarus said.

It’s not the pay that’s causing the staffing shortage. Lazarus said their workforce is mostly made up of high school students. The pandemic has caused the school year to go longer than usual.

“We generally open it between 10 and 11 am. They’re in school then,” he said. “So we’ve had to curtail our hours until the kids get out of school.”

Lazarus’ company also manages Broadway Grand Prix in Myrtle Beach.

That attraction is open daily, but they’ve had to shorten their hours due to being short-staffed.

Lazarus said he employs around a thousand people between the three attractions each summer.

Along with a shortage of high school students, Lazarus said it’s impossible to hire J-1 visa students as well.

“I generally hire about 100 between our three parks and this year we virtually have zero,” he said.

Karen Riordan, executive director of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said the J-1 visa program usually places around 3,000 international students at hospitality jobs across the Grand Strand.

“Hotels, restaurants... our dining community has really felt it,” Riordan said.

Last year, former President Donald Trump put a ban on the program because of the pandemic.

The ban has since been lifted, but Riordan said some countries where the students are from continue to struggle to control the virus.

“Those countries unfortunately are not in as good as shape in defeating COVID,” she said. “Their vaccination rollout is still slower and so they’re not able to release quite a few people yet.”

Riordan said some employers have been able to hire college students who just finished their final exams.

There will also be a job fair from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on June 10 in Conway at Sheppard’s Table on 1412 Gamecock Ave # A.

The full letter can be read below:

A letter from the President of Lazarus Entertainment Group to our Season Pass Holders, locals and tourists: *please note we will be open Monday for Memorial Day*

Posted by Myrtle Waves Water Park on Friday, May 28, 2021

The attractions are just the latest Grand Strand businesses to be impacted by staffing shortages in recent months.

RELATED COVERAGE:

Myrtle Beach asking visitors to ‘please pack a little patience’ as worker shortages lead to waits

Some Grand Strand businesses offering sign-on bonuses to hire more workers

‘We are severely understaffed’: Some Grand Strand restaurants cutting hours to let employees rest

Myrtle Beach city leaders have asked visitors to pack some patience as local restaurants and shops continue to deal with staffing woes.

Earlier in the spring, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce launched a series of promotional campaigns to target retirees, veterans, teachers, college students and high school students.

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