Athens, May 27 – Greece’s tourism sector, a vital pillar of the country’s economy, has been forecast to recover and reach the 2019 pre-pandemic record levels this year by local officials and industry experts.
Revenues from tourism soared 342 per cent in the first three months of 2022 compared with the same period the previous year, Xinhua news agency quoted Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias as saying on Thursday.
However, many businesses in this industry are struggling to find personnel to fill in thousands of job vacancies, as people, in particular after the pandemic shock, seem to seek more stability in the workplace, according to experts.
According to a study released recently by Institute SETE, the Research Institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), about 22-24 per cent of the job positions in Greek hotels were not covered last year.
Specifically, during the third quarter of 2021, the peak season for Greek tourism, hotels had 244,000 positions, out of which 53,000 positions were not filled, Aris Ikkos, Research Director of Institute SETE, told Xinhua.
The problem persists this year. The shortage of labour in hotels already existed before the Covid-19 pandemic, but it has become a more serious problem than it was before, according to Ikkos.
“During 2020 when hotels were closed, a lot of people found jobs in other sectors and they remained in those sectors, because they were happier there or they felt more secure there,” he said.
Moreover, “in 2021, nobody expected the season to be as good as it was in the end. So many hotels were late in hiring and when they needed the staff, they could not find them anymore”, he added.
Meanwhile, staff shortage has also affected the operation capacity in the food and beverage sector.
Anastasios Zissopoulos, President of the Hellenic Chef’s Federation (HCF), told Xinhua that currently there is a shortage of approximately 20,000 employees in the sector.
In the past three years, just after Greece had emerged from a decade-long debt crisis, some 40 to 50 per cent of chefs left the country or opted to change profession, he noted.