H-2B Returning Worker Exemption Act​

H-2B Returning Worker Exemption Act
Earlier this month, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it had received requests for more than 136,000 H-2B workers and there are only 33,000 available under the congressionally authorized statutory cap. Many hotels rely on the H-2B program to augment their domestic workforce during their peak season to ensure they can operate at full capacity. With ongoing concerns due to OMICRON and COVID-19 pandemic, combined with an acute workforce shortage, access to H-2B visas are more crucial now than ever before especially for the lodging industry. 
The recently introduced H-2B Returning Worker Exemption Act would provide a returning worker exemption and increased integrity measures to strengthen the H-2B visa program. Act now to urge your representative to co-sponsor the H-2B Returning Worker Exemption Act.

Applications for Top 10 2022 Events Open

Applications for Top 10 2022 Events Open
The Vermont Chamber is pleased to be running our annual Top 10 Events program in 2022.
The deadline to submit applications for all seasons is Friday, November 5, 2021.
Eligibility & Qualities of A Winning Event:
Applications are assessed by a panel of judges who take into consideration the geography and date of all events submitted. Judges select a variety of events that represent the entire state during the winter, summer, and fall months. Judges consider:
  • The size of the event, including past audience and potential room for growth.
  • Its appeal to a large diverse audience of all ages, including both Vermont residents and out-of-state visitors.
  • If the venue can accommodate attendance up to twice the normal count.
The Top 10 Event designation is a great marketing tool. Winter, summer and fall event winners will be featured in our upcoming Vermont Annual Inspiration Guide and will be featured events on the VermontVacation.com Events Calendar.
Below are the applications for the 2022 Top 10 Events, and the dates events must fall between to be considered. Please note that the deadline to submit applications for all seasons is Friday, November 5th.
2022 Top 10 Winter Events Application (November 15, 2021 – March 31, 2022)
2022 Top 10 Summer Events Application (April 1 – August 31, 2022)
2022 Top 10 Fall Events Application (September 1 – October 31, 2022)

National Food Safety Month

National Food Safety Month
September was National Food Safety Month with the National Restaurant Association and ServSafe. This year’s theme was Know Safe & Show Safe and programming highlighted cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting standards with five weeks of education.
Week 1 – Cleaning vs. Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting: Learn more about what it is, when it needs to be done, and best practices on how it should be done.
Week 2 – Cleaning and Sanitizing Equipment: Learn more about best practices and how to create the habit of proper cleaning.
Week 3 – Cleaning and Sanitizing Dishes: Learn more about how to clean, dry and store cookware and tableware.
Week 4 – Cleaning and Sanitizing Your Operations: Learn more about best practices for cleaning after a guest gets sick.
Week 5 – Developing & Implementing a Cleaning Program: Learn more about what elements should you include in your Master Cleaning Plan.
Learn more about all of the programming covered during National Food Safety Month here.

Feel Fall in Vermont

Feel Fall in Vermont

By Vermont Chamber Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear

Have you ever picked crisp apples fresh from an orchard, been surrounded by bright red and orange mountains, or hiked through a towering corn maze?

In Vermont, you can do all that and more on an ordinary fall day. This year, visitors can enjoy the season in a distinctly Vermont way – with activities and attractions that draw in people from around the globe.

Our state has options everyone will love.

  • Delicious food and drink

After shopping and cider sampling at Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury, enjoy a meal at Apple Core Luncheonette & Brew, which offers homemade breakfast and lunch seven days a week.

Stop by Citizen Cider’s Tasting Room in Burlington for flagship hard ciders and seasonal limited releases, all made from apples sourced locally. The full food menu has something for everyone, featuring items made with their infamous cider.

  • Stay somewhere serene

The Essex Resort & Spa, a centrally located luxury resort, is the perfect home-base for exploring Vermont in the fall from north to south. End the day at on-site restaurants or spend an afternoon unwinding at the spa.

Or stay at Manchester’s Equinox Golf Resort & Spa. Located in the heart of the Green Mountains, this iconic resort is steeped in history. Surrounded by natural landscapes, this destination is beautiful in every season, but is especially stunning during fall.

  • Get active in fresh air

Featuring one of the best corn mazes in the state, kids and adults of all ages enjoy hiking through the towering corn at Hathaway Farm in Rutland and the challenge of solving a maze.

Shelburne Orchards

Enjoy apple picking and cider donuts while taking in the view of Lake Champlain on Shelburne Orchards’ 60-acre family owned and operated apple orchard.

You can also use our trip planning tool at VermontVacation.com to narrow your search and discover unique accommodations, restaurants, attractions, and recreation.

If you’re traveling, why not visit the most vaccinated state in the country?

Last month, Vermont had the highest vaccination rate in the country. If you’re going to travel this fall, why not come to one of the safest states in the nation?

Vermont has a tradition of welcoming visitors to our state. In the wake of Covid-19, the state continues to offer safe travel guidance to visitors and Vermonters. Before you come, take a few minutes to learn what our state leaders are recommending regarding masking and physical distancing.

Community care is at the heart of Vermont life. When you visit, we know you’ll feel the Vermonter spirit in our safety measures and in every smile and wave.

While you stay, play with us by sharing on social media with hashtags #ThisIsVT and #VermontFall.

We would love to see and share your photos this fall. The Vermont Chamber of Commerce tourism team will share your Instagram posts in our stories from our Visit Vermont account.

We’ll also be creating an album with your photos on our Facebook page.

Every year, Vermont sees more than 13 million visitors to the state.

As you plan your visit, be sure to check your plans carefully by reading updates on lodging and business websites. Due to staffing shortages, their hours of operation and policies may have changed.

We are so excited to welcome you to Vermont.

Amy Spear, of Killington, is the Vice President of Tourism at the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, whose mission is focused on creating an economic climate conducive to business growth while enhancing Vermont’s quality of life.

37th Annual Vermont Tourism Summit

37th Annual Vermont Tourism Summit
The 37th Annual Vermont Tourism Summit will be held November 17-18, 2021 at the Killington Grand Resort Hotel. Owners, managers, and employees of the many businesses connected to this important segment of the economy will convene to learn, share, and connect with each other.
Some takeaways from this year’s Vermont Tourism Summit:
  • Strengthen your business with expert insight from leading consultants
  • Master the latest tools, technologies and tactics
  • Learn smart strategies from marketing and media practitioners
View the full schedule of eventsRegistration is open now with the best rates available before October 1.
Vermont’s tourism industry was hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sponsor opportunities are available. Funds raised through sponsorships help to make the event affordable for all attendees, and go directly toward conference related expenses. Learn more about sponsorship opportunities here.

Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear on S.79 Veto

Statement from Vermont Chamber Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear on S.79 Veto

Montpelier, VT (July 2, 2021) –

“We are surprised and disappointed by Governor Scott’s veto of S.79. The Administration did not indicate they had a serious problem with the bill, which had a wide range of supporters, at any point during the 2021 legislative session. The sudden change of course is difficult to understand, considering several Administration officials publicly offered support [1] for the legislation over the last few months.

S.79 would have ensured a safe rental environment while also moving Vermont toward greater regulatory equity in the lodging marketplace. As an example, licensed lodging properties were subject to onsite visits from officials throughout the pandemic for compliance checks. Short-term rentals (STR) were exempt from this because they are permitted to operate anonymously; owners could not be contacted and there is no system in place for open lines of communication with the State. With thousands of STR units in Vermont, we believe it is important that these property owners receive communications on how to ensure the health and safety of the traveling public.

Vermont’s lodging businesses have suffered disproportionately throughout the pandemic, yet they have been public health champions. The passage of this bill would have provided a glimmer of hope for licensed lodging properties and would have demonstrated that the Administration understands the need to level the playing field for businesses providing overnight accommodations. The Vermont Chamber will continue advocating for the establishment of an STR registry when the Legislature reconvenes.”


About the Vermont Chamber of Commerce

The largest statewide, private, not-for-profit business organization, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce represents every sector of the state’s business community. Its mission is to create an economic climate conducive to business growth and the preservation of the Vermont quality of life.

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[1] A review of recorded testimony offered by the Administration shows Department of Housing and Community Development Housing Program Administer Shaun Gilpin explaining the benefits of the bill for BIPOC homeownership and saving costs through the establishment of a rental registry and Department of Health Public Policy Advisor Shayla Livingston explaining the Department had no objections to the bill. These are just two of several examples of Administration officials speaking favorably of the bill.

Legislature Adjourns After Passing Several Vermont Chamber Priorities

Legislature Adjourns After Passing Several Vermont Chamber Priorities

The Legislature adjourned Friday until October or January after passing bills that address several legislative priorities the Vermont Chamber worked to support over the past five months. A bill with a tranche of economic development proposals, including investments in tourism marketing, foreign trade, technology-based economic development, workforce development, and BIPOC business support was just one result of the session.

Other legislation that made it over the finish line includes additional economic recovery grants, the largest investment in broadband buildout in Vermont history, investments in child care, health care cost savings for businesses, and additional incentives to recruit workers to Vermont. While these actions will benefit the business community, regrettably the Legislature did not meaningfully respond to the reality of overwhelming unmet financial need in the business community as a result of the pandemic. Lawmakers advanced only $30 million in relief grants, despite the Agency of Commerce and Community Development identifying over $500 million in existing known unmet need. The Vermont Chamber’s lobbying team recognizes the challenges the business community has faced over the last 14 months and worked extensively to understand members’ individual policy needs and advocate for legislative outcomes with the goal of ensuring economic recovery and supporting Vermont’s economic future.

The Legislature passed a $7 billion budget that includes many unprecedented investments across state government, including in economic development. Some notable allocations are:

  • $20 million to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) to fund additional economic recovery grants
  • $20 million to Vermont State Colleges for system transformation over the next four years
  • $11 million to ACCD to be used in the same manner as the Brownfield Remediation Fund
  • $800,000 to ACCD for technology-based economic development grants
  • $1.5 million for the Better Places Program
  • $2 million to the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing in additional funds, beyond the agency’s regular budget for marketing and regional stimulus
  • $650,000 for additional funds for new and remote worker programs
  • $100,000 for adult CTE scholarships
  • $300,000 for adult CTE program improvements
  • $150,000 to ACCD for outreach and technical support for BIPOC-owned businesses
  • $300,000 to support foreign trade with Canada
  • $900,000 to ACCD to fund the Entrepreneurs’ Seed Capital Fund

Funds for much of the budget rely heavily on resources provided to Vermont in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). This massive injection of federal money allowed legislative leaders and the Governor to advance bold proposals that may have otherwise not come to volition for many years.  Please contact Vermont Chamber Government Affairs Director Charles Martin with questions.

Walk-in Vaccine Clinics Across Vermont for Hospitality Workers

Walk-in Vaccine Clinics Across Vermont for Hospitality Workers

Media Contacts:

Maggie Wilson
Vermont Chamber Director of Communications

Nate Formalarie, Communications Director
Agency of Commerce and Community Development
(802) 522-7323; nate.formalarie@vermont.gov

Vaccine Clinics to be Held Across Vermont for Tourism and Hospitality Workers

“Ensuring Vermont’s hospitality industry is safe and healthy is crucial to our state’s recovery”

Montpelier, VT (May 13, 2021) – In partnership with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, the Vermont Department of Health will begin hosting walk-in COVID-19 vaccine clinics for restaurant, hospitality, and tourism workers over the next week.

The initial wave of clinics will take place at seven locations, with each site offering Johnson & Johnson vaccines for tourism and hospitality workers on a walk-in basis. Clinics will be staged at restaurants, lodging properties, ski resorts, and other tourism attractions to bring the vaccine directly to the workers in this sector. 

Vermont was recently ranked first in the nation for its COVID-19 vaccination rate, and more than 628,000 doses have been administered throughout the state. Governor Phil Scott’s Vermont Forward Plan for reopening is dependent upon Vermonters doing their part and getting vaccinated as soon as they can. These upcoming sector-specific vaccine clinics will make accessing the vaccine easier for hospitality workers and help Vermont continue on the path to fully reopen by July 4th.

“The hospitality sector is eager to welcome guests back to our businesses,” said Jed Davis, owner of the Farmhouse Group of restaurants. “Providing ease of access to our industry workers and employees recognizes the important role our teams play in the social and economic recovery of Vermont.”

“Ensuring Vermont’s hospitality industry is safe and healthy is crucial to our state’s recovery,” said Amy Spear, Vermont Chamber Vice President of Tourism. “Employees in the industry maintain a high level of contact with the public and often work hours not conducive to traditional vaccine appointment times. These clinics will make vaccines more accessible to the tourism and hospitality workers who provide welcoming, world-class experiences for Vermonters and visitors alike.”

“As the state looks forward to the next phases of reopening, making sure vaccines are easily available will be key,” said VDTM Commissioner Heather Pelham. “We are all eager to enjoy gathering together at events and meeting up with friends and family at our local restaurants. With this extra support for the tourism industry, we can help make sure everyone stays safe, as we welcome back visitors to the state and work to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19.”

The first wave of clinics will be in Waterbury, Woodstock, Waitsfield, Windsor, South Burlington, Middlebury, and Warren. To see all dates, times, and locations for these tourism and hospitality worker vaccine clinics, please visit the ACCD Recovery Resource Center.

More than a dozen additional clinics, including in Rutland, Killington, Stowe, and Vergennes, are being planned now and will be added as details are confirmed.  If a tourism or hospitality business would like to host a clinic for industry employees in their area, please contact Amy Spear at aspear@vtchamber.com

About the Vermont Chamber of Commerce

As the largest statewide, private, not-for-profit business organization, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce represents every sector of the state’s business community. Its mission is to create an economic climate conducive to business growth and the preservation of the Vermont quality of life.

About the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing

The Department of Tourism and Marketing promotes Vermont’s travel, recreation, cultural and historic attractions, as well as the state’s goods and services, in coordination with public and private sector partners. The department also works to market to a global audience in a manner consistent with the values and traditions of the state for the economic benefit of all VermontersVermontVacation.com

Spotlighting Spirit of Ethan Allen

Spotlighting Spirit of Ethan Allen

This month, we are spotlighting Vermont Chamber member Spirit of Ethan Allen

Welcome aboard Lake Champlain’s only luxury cruise ship, accommodating up to 363 passengers on 3 separate, climate-controlled decks. Enjoy Scenic, Lunch, Brunch, Nightly Dinner, and Sunset cruises 7 days a week. Themed cruises include Sounds of Summer, Spirit Comedy Quest Dinner Show, Lobstah on the Lake, Captain’s Dinner Dance, and Champagne on Champlain Brunch.

They also offer services in private functions, corporate events, school outings, wedding and rehearsal ceremonies, and themed cruise parties. Book your 2021 cruise today. 

Visit Spirit of Ethan Allen’s website to learn more!

Senate Passes Bill Limiting Agritourism Liability

Senate Passes Bill Limiting Agritourism Liability

On Thursday, the Senate passed in concurrence H.89 which makes providers of agritourism activities immune from civil liability if a participant is injured as a result of risks inherent in the activity and the provider has posted a warning about those risks.

The bill heads to the Governor’s desk, and if signed into law would align Vermont with other states and put agritourism on a level playing field with other related industries in Vermont such as equine and ski areas in terms of limiting liability. Please contact Vermont Chamber Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear with questions.