Greek tourism warns it faces severe staff shortages this summer

Bars, restaurants and resorts in Greece are looking forward to what they hope will be a busy summer, with COVID-19 travel restrictions set to be eased in late May.

Many in the tourism sector expect an increase in arrivals – but some say there are not enough staff.

Notis Chaldeos runs a family hotel business on the island of Aegina. It is part of the backbone of the Greek tourist economy: without these places it would not work.

But Chaldeos has a problem. He has plenty of shifts to fill at Vagia, his hotel – and not enough people to fill them.

“I have to do everything alone – the plumbing, the electrical work and even the garden,” Chaldeas told CGTN. “I don’t have enough workers, most of them decide to leave Greece for better pay. This is going to be a big problem for us.”

Vagia is a traditional hotel on the island of Aegina, a seasonal getaway for Athenians. Like so many other Greek islands, it depends on tourism to survive.

But with hordes of young Greeks turning to jobs that can be done remotely during the pandemic, the industry is facing staff shortages.

According to the government, the trend towards working from home means that more than 50,000 jobs in the tourism sector remain vacant, or one in five positions. And Chaldeos says there was no support from Athens.

A multiplier problem

Greece is known for its warm climate, beaches and crystal clear waters. COVID-19 has dealt a severe blow to the tourism industry, and the easing of measures at the end of May points to a more profitable summer.

But some say there aren’t enough staff to keep up with the increase, and resort and hotel workers will be working more for less – with multiplier effects in years to come.

“If the staff shortage problem is not solved next month, the problem will get worse or even double next year,” said Giorgos Xontzoglou, president of the Greek Food, Tourism Federation. and the hotel industry.

“Imagine that a seasonal worker goes to work somewhere this year and there are shortages: this person will have to fill vacancies, because he will work more hours and positions for the same money.

“It will prevent them from doing it again next year. And I’m afraid we’re getting to the point of having good services and products to offer tourists, but no workers.”

Europeans are already making reservations and hotels like the Vagia are fully booked. Whether there will be enough staff to provide visitors with five-star service remains to be seen.

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