The tourism sector in Greece faced significant problems in finding staff in 2021.

At the national level, it is estimated that at the peak of the summer season 2021, 53,249 positions were not filled of the 244,124 jobs provided according to the organization chart in hotels. That is, the shortage rate is 22% or more than 1 in 5 positions were not filled. The percentage is similar in all hotel departments and ranges from 21% to 24%.

This refers to a study by the Institute of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (INSETE) on “Employment and labor shortages in Greek hotels at the peak of the summer season 2021” which was prepared using primary research data conducted by the Institute of Tourism Research ITEP) of the Hotel Chamber of Greece (XEE) to the members of XEE.

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The shortage of staff at the peak of the season existed in previous years, especially in many islands and remote areas, but was greatly exacerbated by the pandemic. The overall treatment, as well as the promotion of employment opportunities in the sector, are top priority issues for Greek tourism, in order to maintain a high level of service and hospitality, perhaps its strongest point of superiority over the competition.

Employment and shortages by specialty

50% of the total vacancies, almost 26,500 vacancies, correspond to the specialties Waitress, Receptionist, Waiter, Dishwasher, Barista and Technical Support / Maintenance.

In particular, the biggest shortages are presented in Maids (7,303 vacancies / 14% of the total vacancies and 19% of the total vacancies provided in the organizational charts for this specialty), in Waiters (5,027 / 9% of vacancies and 23% of Assistant Waiters (3,883 / 7% of absences and 24% of corresponding posts) and to Receptionists (3,638 / 7% of absences and 17% of posts). They are followed by Barista / Bartender (2,389 / 4% and 23% respectively), Dishwasher (2,244 / 4% and 21% respectively) and Technical Support / Maintenance (1,988 / 4% and 21% respectively).

The specialty with the largest percentage shortage in relation to the foreseen positions is Sommelier (47% or 284 people), followed by Assistant Receptionist (39% / 1,861), Marketing Executive (36% / 1,192) and Guest Relations Executive (35% / 1,037).

In terms of departments, most of the shortages are in F&B (13,647 / 26% of the total shortages and 24% of the respective foreseen positions) and in Housekeeping (12,982 / 24% and 21% respectively), followed by Front Office (8,809 / 17% and 22% respectively) and Kitchen (8.748 / 16% and 22% respectively). 50% of the total staff shortages were recorded in the F&B and Housekeeping departments.

Out of the total of 10,050 hotels in Greece, 38% (3,780 hotels) show a shortage of at least one Maid position, 30% (3,027 hotels) in Receptionist, 27% (2,751 hotels) in Waiter and 18% in Waiter Assistant (1,811) and Barista (1,800).

Vacancies by category and size of hotel

The 4 and 5 star categories represent 56% of the total positions based on the organization chart – 68,175 and 67,147 respectively. Most staff shortages are observed in 4-star (14,641, 27% of total shortfalls) and 3-star hotels (13,687, 26%). The 5 star hotels have the lowest percentage deficiencies (17%) in relation to their needs, while the 2 and 3 star hotels have the highest percentage deficiencies (25% and 26% respectively).

In absolute numbers, most of the shortages (17,107 jobs or 32% of the total) are presented in the Small hotels (21-50 rooms), followed by the Large ones (> 101 rooms) with 16.456 / 31% of the total. However, in proportion to the positions in their organization charts, the Small hotels present the highest percentage of shortages (26%) and the Large ones the lowest (18%).

The picture in continuous operation and seasonal hotels

The staff shortages in seasonal hotels (40,872 jobs or 77% of the total shortfalls) are about 3.5 times higher than the full-time hotels (12,376 seats or 23% of the total shortfalls).

There is, however, no significant difference in the percentage in terms of needs / organization chart, which is 22% in the seasonal versus 21% in the continuous, due to the fact that the seasonal operation occupies – in peak season – about 3.5 times more employees (183,919 or 75% of the total for seasonal operation and 60,205 or 25% for continuous operation).

On the other hand, there are proportionally more cases of seasonal hotels that show some shortage, probably due to the fact that they have a minimum of permanent staff and have to (re) hire at the beginning of each season.

Shortages by geographical area

In Central Greece about 1 in 3 jobs were not filled, in the Ionian, North Aegean, Epirus and Thessaly about 1 in 4, in the regions of N. Aegean, Crete, Peloponnese, Macedonia and Thrace about 1 in 5 and in Attica about 1 in 7 jobs.

More specifically, 25% of the total shortages (13,373 vacancies) were recorded in the N. Aegean, 19% (10,183 positions) in Crete, 16% (8,295 positions) in Macedonia-Thrace and 13% (7,106 positions) in Ionian Islands.

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