Restaurateurs expect the summer tourism season to be better than the past few summers,  Nation's Restaurant News is reporting.

Easing gas prices and growing consumer confidence bode well for travel and tourism, which should help restaurant sales, the report says.

To accommodate increased business, restaurants are on track to post the highest summer employment numbers in nearly two decades. According to National Restaurant Association projections released Thursday, restaurants could add 450,000 jobs this summer, a 4.6 percent increase over the March employment level.

In Maryland,  summer restaurant employment is projected to grow more than 9 percent, with the addition of more than 16,000 jobs, the restaurant association said.  Summer restaurant employment in the state is projected to be 189,900, the group said.

The restaurant industry is typically the biggest creator of summer jobs in the U.S. The association defines summer employment as the difference between the projected employment at eating and drinking places in June, July and August and the March 2012 employment level.