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Affordable housing in the district has been pinpointed as one of the key factors hindering business owners' efforts to secure restaurant and bar staff.
Immigration New Zealand procedures and wages offered in hospitality were also not easing the load for the industry.
Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan said there were a variety of issues playing into the region's hospitality space.
''The cost of rental housing is definitely doing that (affecting hospitality).
''Airbnb, where people are putting their houses out for short-term rather than long-term which means that constricts that market again.''
The weight of the region's housing woes was illustrated by a housing report commissioned by the Southern District Health Board last month.
Bannockburn Hotel owner Andy Macintosh has five to six roles for the coming summer period.
''Unfortunately, unlike Europe for example, hospitality is not often seen in New Zealand as a stable career option - more of a stopgap between jobs.
''As owners we currently do 65-70 hours per week, this will increase during summer to around 90 per week. This is clearly unsustainable.''
Cromwell's Five Stags Restaurant & Bar manager Glen Christiansen said finding duty managers was an ongoing challenge for the pub, sentiments echoed by Monteiths Brewery Bar Alexandra manager Patricia Rangiwai.
''With rent it is very hard for people to move down and get a rental around here, so people aren't moving anymore because they've got houses and they can't find any here.''
In Clyde, Oliver's restaurant owner David Ritchie said the situation was similar to previous years.
''It would certainly help if we could recruit from overseas for those lower-paid roles.
''There is just not the number of New Zealanders around looking for hospitality work in the regions like Central Otago.''
He was hoping to fill about six to eight roles for the busy summer period.
The pressure was being felt in more rural spots.
Chatto Creek Tavern is after a handful of staff for front of house and chef roles.
A staff member said it seemed to be a lot harder this year compared to previous years.