Greece hotels struggle to fill empty spaces

Greek hotels will be looking for 55,000 staff positions this summer, according to the country’s hoteliers, and this season is expected to be very busy.

22%, or more than 1 in 5 vacancies, will remain unfilled, hoteliers say in an interview with state news agency amna. According to data provided by INSETE, the Institute of the Hellenic Tourism Confederation, during the 2021 tourist season, the number of unoccupied places reached 53,249 out of a total of 244,124 places officially registered by hotels. This year, 22%, or more than 1 in 5 vacancies, will remain unfilled.

Speaking to amna, the President of the Tourism Research Institute (ITEP), Konstantina Svinova, said the problem arose in 2019, when hotels aiming to cover 20,000 beds finally managed to fill 16,000.

Combined with the two-year coronavirus pandemic, the shortening of tourism periods in 2020 and 2021 has led many to look for work in other sectors. According to Swinow, foreigners working in hotels 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, mostly aged 25-35, were looking for work in other sectors that could guarantee year-round work and a five-day work schedule.

At the same time, Kristina Tetrady noted that a large number of workers in the sector, who used to work mainly in cleaning and restaurants in hotels, preferred to work for higher wages and without insurance on short-term rentals. “A villa rented for 1,000 euros a day can offer a daily wage 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 employee’s insurance and other deductions,” Notes Tetrady.

No cooks

Sweenow and Notebooks note that the biggest staffing problems arise with low-paid vacancies in hotels: waiters, cooks and cleaners. Highlighting this issue, Evgenios Vassilikos, general secretary of the Athens-Attica & Argosaronic hotel association, points out that “you cannot find a chef in the job market, even if you are actively looking for one.”

Most chefs have decided to open their own establishments this year, while many have been looking for much higher salaries on popular islands like Mykonos and Santorini. There are similar shortages in other areas, especially in seasonal hotels on the Greek islands.

Fewer employees means longer hours, says Sweenow, which is not good, despite the wages, as many have to work weekends due to lack of replacement. She also rebutted criticism that hotels do not pay workers well, as often “hotel owners pay more than what is stipulated in collective bargaining agreements” and provide lavish room and board.

Among the solutions proposed by officials are hiring the registered unemployed through the unemployment agency (OAED) and facilitating the recruitment of personnel from abroad. In addition, they say short-term businesses should be screened for uninsured workers and the government should provide employee subsidies so that a hotel owner can start hiring as early as May and even October.

INSET data

According to INSETE, 50% of the jobs not covered in 2021 (26,500) are maids, receptionists, waiters, dishwashers, baristas, and technical support or maintenance.

Out of 10,050 hotels in Greece, 38% (or 3,780 hotels) could not fill at least one maid position, 30% (3,027 hotels) a receptionist, 27% (2,751 hotels) a waiter/waitress, and 18% of waiter assistants (1,811 hotels) and barista (1800).


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