ATHENS – With a shortage of some 55,000 workers in Greece’s again-booming tourism industry even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the answer for the sector is to pay them better.
While hotels, bars, taverns and spin-offs in tourism are raking in the cash again, including scamming visitors on Mykonos where a bottle of champagne can cost 1,000 euros ($1,049) some workers there slept in their cars because they were being put up in filthy, unihabitable rooms and relying on tips.
Greece eased COVID measures and opened to tourists early and it’s paying off big time, arrivals in May at more than 86 percent of that in the record-busting year of 2019 before the pandemic brought an end to that.
While the tourism industry is flourishing, the workers are not and the young especially have shunned seasonal work in favor of full-time and better-paying positions elsewhere, creating a shortage of staff from chefs to cleaners.
Speaking to theannual general meeting of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) he said it’s time to pass on some of the profits to your workers.
Tourism, he said, “requires investments in human resources too, as it has to be attractive not only to visitors but also to those working in the sector; which points to better salaries and working terms,” Mitsotakis said, reported Kathimerini.
Tourism is Greece’s biggest revenue engine, bringing in as much as 18-20 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 190.87 billion euros ($200.3 billion) and had employed nearly a million people.
More tourists are opting for higher-end stays at 4-and-5-star hotels and luxury resorts while cheaper accommodations haven’t seen investments in their infrastructure, making them even less attractive.
“The state is undertaking infrastructure upgrades from roads, ports and airports up to water supply and recycling, even a shift of education toward domains the economy and the labor market demand,” he said.
There was no answer from the tourism officials and business executives at the event if they would pay more or keep the money, and no word whether there would again be an attempt to stop tax evasion in the industry that’s rampant.