Greek hotels might struggle to fill more than 55,000 job vacancies for the 2022 summer season following a report by INSETE, the Institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation, that showed that during the 2021 tourism season the unfilled positions reached 53,249 out of a total 244,124 positions officially registered by hotels. This year, 22% or over 1 in 5 positions will remain unfilled.
Speaking to Greek news agency ANA, Research Institute for Tourism (ITEP) President Konstantina Svynou said the problem arose in 2019, when hotels looking to cover 20,000 positions finally managed to fulfil 16,000.
Compounded by the two-year coronavirus pandemic, the shrinking of the tourism periods in 2020 and 2021 led many to look for work in other sectors. Foreigners working in hotels, Svynou says, left Greece for other European countries. In recent comments, Hellenic Hoteliers Federation President (POX) Grigoris Tassios noted that many seasonal workers, mainly aged 25-35, sought work in other sectors that could guarantee year-round work and a five-day weekly schedule.
At the same time, Hellenic Chamber of Hotels Vice President Christina Tetradi noted that a large number of sector employees, who used to work mostly in cleaning and restaurants at hotels, chose to work for higher pay and no insurance at short-term rentals. "A villa rented at 1,000 euros a day is able to offer daily wages of 100 euros per person. The same time, for example, a hotel that pays an employee 40 euros a day also pays 30 euros for the worker's insurance and for other deductions," Tetradi notes.
The greatest staffing problems occur in lower-paying runds in a hotel, both Svynou and Tetradi note: waiters and waitresses, cooks, and cleaning staff. Underlining the issue, Athens-Attica & Argosaronic Hotel Association Secretary General Evgenios Vassilikos notes that "you can't find a chef in the job market, even if you look for one." Most chefs opted to open their own stores this year, while many sought far better salaries on popular islands like Mykonos and Santorini. Other areas face similar shortages, particularly the seasonal Greek island hotels.
Less staff means longer working hours, Svynou says, which is not working out well despite the pay, since many have to work over the weekends for lack of substitutes. She also refuted criticism that hotels do not pay workers well, as often "hoteliers pay more than the collective work agreements stipulate" and provide generous room and board.
Among the solutions the officials propose is hiring registered unemployed people through the unemployment agency (OAED), and facilitating the hire of staff from abroad. Also, they say, short-term businesses should be inspected for uninsured workers, and the state should provide subsidies for workers so a hotelier could begin staff hiring as early as May and as late as October.
According to INSETE, 50% of jobs not covered in 2021 (26,500) relate to chambermaids, receptionists, waiters and waitresses, dish washers, baristas, and technical support or maintenance.
Of 10,050 hotels in Greece, 38% (or 3,780 hotels) could not fill at least one chambermaid's position, 30% (3,027 hotels) receptionists, 27% (2,751 hotels) waiters/waitresses and 18% assistant waiters (1,811 hotels) and baristas (1,800 hotels).