Greek hotels may struggle to fill more than 55,000 vacancies for the 2022 summer season following a report by INSETE, the Institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation, which showed that during the 2021 tourist season, vacancies reached 53,249 out of a total of 244,124 vacancies officially registered by hotels. This year, 22% or more than 1 in 5 positions will remain vacant.
Speaking to the Greek news agency ANA, the president of the Research Institute for Tourism (ITEP), Konstantina Svynou, said the problem arose in 2019, when hotels seeking to cover 20,000 positions had finally managed to fill 16,000.
Compounded by the two-year coronavirus pandemic, the reduction in tourism periods in 2020 and 2021 has led many people to seek work in other sectors. Foreigners working in hotels, says Svynou, have left Greece for other European countries. In recent comments, the president of the Hellenic Federation of Hoteliers (POX), Grigoris Tassios, noted that many seasonal workers, mainly between the ages of 25 and 35, were looking for work in other sectors that could guarantee work all year round. the year and a five-day weekly schedule.
At the same time, the vice-president of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, Christina Tetradi, noted that a large number of employees in the sector, who mainly worked in cleaning and catering in hotels, chose to work for higher pay and no insurance in short-term rentals. “A villa rented for 1,000 euros per day is able to offer a daily salary of 100 euros per person. At the same time, for example, a hotel that pays an employee 40 euros per day also pays 30 euros for the worker’s insurance and for other deductions,” Tetradi notes.
The biggest staffing problems occur in the lowest-paying areas of a hotel, note Svynou and Tetradi: waiters and waitresses, cooks and cleaning staff. Highlighting the problem, the general secretary of the Athens-Attica & Argosaronic Hotel Association, Evgenios Vassilikos, notes that “you cannot find a chef in the labor market, even if you are looking for one”. Most chefs opted to open their own stores this year, while many sought much better salaries on popular islands like Mykonos and Santorini. Other regions are facing similar shortages, especially seasonal hotels on the Greek islands.
Fewer staff means longer working hours, says Svynou, which doesn’t work well despite the pay, as many have to work weekends for lack of replacements. She also rebutted criticism that hotels don’t pay workers well, as often “hoteliers pay more than collective labor agreements stipulate” and offer generous room and board.
Among the solutions proposed by officials are hiring registered unemployed through the employment agency (OAED) and facilitating the hiring of foreign staff. Also, they say, short-term businesses should be inspected for uninsured workers, and the state should provide worker subsidies so a hotelier can start hiring staff as early as May and through October.
According to INSETE, 50% of jobs not covered in 2021 (26,500) concern chambermaids, receptionists, waiters and waitresses, dishwashers, baristas, technical assistance or maintenance.
Out of 10,050 hotels in Greece, 38% (i.e. 3,780 hotels) could not fill at least one position of housekeeper, 30% (3,027 hotels) of receptionists, 27% (2,751 hotels) of waiters/ waitresses and 18% assistant waiters (1,811 hotels) and baristas (1,800 hotels).