Greece is facing a major shortage of workers in the tourism sector, with over 61,000 vacancies in hotels alone, according to the Greek financial daily Naftemboriki. The problem is especially

severe in Northern Greece, where many tourism workers from Balkan countries such as Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, and North Macedonia are expected to choose other tourist destinations for work this year, such as Croatia, Italy, and Spain.

To address the worker shortage, Greece is seeking up to 80,000 workers in the tourism sector, and is exploring the possibility of utilizing international agreements signed with Egypt, Syria, Bangladesh, and Pakistan to find some of them. However, market agents estimate that an additional 20-25% of employees who find other jobs by May or June will not choose to return to the hotel where they worked during last summer’s tourist season, bringing the losses to 75,000-77,000 jobs compared to last year.

The shortage of workers in the tourism sector is due to higher salaries and better working conditions in other countries compared to Greece. “How can foreign workers stay in Greece? In Spain, they work for a basic salary in hotels of 1,600 euros, five days, eight hours a day, which is strictly observed. Here they will get 900 euros, for 14 hours a day, 30 days a month!”, said Giorgos Hontzoglou, president of the Panhellenic Federation of Food and Tourism Workers (POEET).

In addition to the tourism sector, Greece is facing employment deficits in other industries as well. The Hellenic Federation of Industries (SEV) reports that the level of employment deficit in Greece is 10% compared to the average in the European Union. Some professions and specializations for which there is great demand include IT applications specialist, network and telecommunications specialist, computer specialist, purchasing executive, electrician, industrial service technician, automation technician, industrial facility operator, machinery and equipment operator, metallurgical workers, and food industry technologists.

The Greek government recently signed a Ministerial Decision in early March to officially include tourism in the sectors that can accept third-country citizens for seasonal work. However, the gaps in the tourism sector continue to increase, indicating that more needs to be done to address the worker shortage. POEET’s Hontzoglou notes that if the collective agreement of hotel employees is not extended to the entire industry, then the vacancies will increase even more.

Despite the challenges, Greece is expecting a 20% increase in tourism this year, which highlights the urgent need to address the worker shortage in the tourism sector. It remains to be seen whether the international agreements and other initiatives will be successful in attracting the workers needed to fill the gaps. Photo by Norbert Nagel, Wikimedia commons.