DAYTONA BEACH — Jennifer Pickett was all smiles as she emerged from an interview at an open-house job fair this past week at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort.

Pickett, 45, who left her job as an assistant manager at a senior assisted living facility in Palm Coast in the wake of COVID-related stresses of 2020, was excited about the prospects of a hospitality career.

“I really think this whole area, Daytona Beach, is hopping again,” she said, following an interview that she hoped would lead to a job in reservations or customer service. “I think the Hilton is a classy, sophisticated hotel, with a great feel to it. I think it would be a great hotel to work for.

“There should be hundreds of people here,” she said. “I don’t know why there aren’t.”

Indeed, business is booming at Volusia County hotels this summer, with occupancy and tourism bed-tax collections topping the destination’s performance for pre-COVID 2019.

Hisa Tamura, a guest services employee, rolls a guest's luggage to their car during check-out on Monday at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort. The 744-room hotel, the largest in Daytona Beach, is among the Volusia County hotels struggling to hire workers as summer tourism is booming, a reflection of a national trend.

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 Yet many hotels are still struggling to hire employees to bolster workforces downsized by pandemic-related staff reductions a year ago.Only a trickle of applicants — a dozen or so — arrived over the first two hours of the Hilton’s job fair, a five-hour window for interviews about a wide range of jobs that included bartenders, cooks, front-deck supervisors, security officers, reservationists and other roles at the 744-room hotel, the largest in Daytona Beach.