Tourism in Greece suffers from staff shortages and high energy prices

Officials have warned that tourism in Greece for the 2022 season is threatened by staff shortages and rising energy prices.

Tourism is a key industry in Greece, providing a quarter of the national income. A record number of tourists is expected this year – after the lifting of all restrictions related to the coronavirus.

The shortage of personnel in the tourism sector is 50,000 people

However, Andreas Andreadis, honorary chairman of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), warned that Greece’s tourism industry is currently short of more than 50,000 people, mostly kitchen and service personnel. “Our quality tourism is at risk,” he tweeted in April.

“Indeed, there is a huge labor shortage with wages well in excess of industry contracts. The biggest problems are in the food industry (cuisine and service), where there are more than 50,000 vacancies. Solutions are needed now, our quality tourism is in danger!”

The shortage of staff is astonishing in a country with one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe. According to the latest statistics for February, the unemployment rate in Greece, seasonally adjusted, is 12.8%. Among people aged 15 to 24 – 31.1%.

Reasons for the shortage of personnel in Greece

Hoteliers across the country are facing a severe housing shortage after two years of pandemic-related restrictions, with scores of hospitality workers looking for work elsewhere. However, according to Giorgos Khotsoglu, President Federation of Tourism and Hospitality Workersthe shortage of jobs will continue because working conditions and wages in the tourism sector are particularly poor.

“Employers differ, but not all of them offer enough wages for a seasonal worker to decide to go to work on the island,” Hotzoglu said in Thessnews interview. – Travel companies, [которые] advertise summer staff in Mykonos, Santorini or Paros, offer a salary of 700 euros plus room and board for a 12-hour working day, seven days a week.”

He added that “these salaries do not correspond to such working conditions, and employees justifiably refuse job offers.” Hotzoglu also noted that another factor that has caused the shortage of personnel in the Greek tourism industry is that the government is “dragging” the issue of providing workers with unemployment benefits during the winter months. As a result, he says, many workers have found work abroad, while others have moved to other industries.

Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias suggested last month that some of these vacancies could be filled from more than 22,000 refugees from Ukrainewho arrived in Greece after the Russian invasion in February. Greece issues them temporary residence permits, they will be able to live and work in the country for one year without financial support. However, as it turned out, there is a problem of the language barrier. Most Ukrainians who arrived in Greece either do not know foreign languages ​​at all, or know one of the European languages ​​(most often English) at a very mediocre level.

Soaring energy prices hit tourism in Greece

According to EU news agency Eurostatinflation in Greece, caused by a jump in energy prices, is about 8%, while electricity and gas prices have increased by more than 300% since last year, and fuel prices for cars have increased by an average of 25% (on the islands up to 35- 40%).

Hotel owners say that as energy and food prices rise, they are barely surviving. And given the competition in the tourism market, they do not want to radically raise prices for services, fearing to scare away tourists.

President of the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers Grigoris Tassios news agency ΑΜΝΑthat operating costs have risen by 25-30% compared to 2021, mainly due to higher energy bills. At the same time, most hotels have signed contracts with tour operators that reflect the costs for 2019. These contacts, he explains, are signed at least a year before the start of the tourist season and it is almost impossible to change them now.

However, he stressed that hotels in Greece will not raise prices until at least 2023. He notes that transport costs are likely to rise, estimating that the air ticket will increase by 50-100 euros due to higher fuel prices.

The president Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasting Konstantina Svinova says hotels that are open all year round are particularly affected. A hotel in Athens with low occupancy spends 70% of its turnover on energy bills. “In these conditions, the hotel business is not viable,” she notes.

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