ATHENS – Due to a significant worker shortage in the tourism sector in 2022 and in anticipation of a booming 2023, Greece is looking to recruit third-country nationals from outside the European Union to fill job vacancies.
The New Democracy government has introduced a measure that allows tourism businesses in Greece to hire foreign workers to meet staffing demands. This comes after the government lifted health restrictions during the waning COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to attract visitors.
Greece is preparing to open the spring season, with early reports of high booking volumes from travel and tour agencies, cruise ships, and an increase in the number of United States airlines adding direct flights.
Overall, the move to recruit foreign workers highlights the tourism industry’s growing demand for staff and Greece’s efforts to meet this demand by expanding its hiring pool.
According to GTP Headlines, there are an estimated 75,000 unfilled positions in the tourism industry, up from 60,000 a year ago and 53,000 in 2021. With even more tourists expected to arrive and an increasing need for services, hotels, and restaurants, the demand for workers is set to rise.
Tourism professionals are raising concerns about the shortage of workers in various positions, ranging from cleaning staff to waiters. In 2022, the government responded by setting up a portal listing available jobs in the tourism sector, with the majority of positions being in hotels and food and beverage services.
At that time, Andreas Andreadis, the former President of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), urged the government to take immediate action, noting that “the quality of our tourism product is at risk.”
The Panhellenic Federation of Catering and Tourist Industry Employees (POEET) attributed the shortage to low pay and poor working conditions, with some restaurant and bar workers on Mykonos, a destination known for high prices, complaining about being housed in substandard accommodations.
The Hellenic Hoteliers Federation and the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels subsequently sent a letter to government officials requesting changes to the law to allow the employment of workers from outside the European Union, as many Greeks are reportedly avoiding these jobs.
Despite offering higher pay, hotel owners are still struggling to find enough staff, including waiters, chambermaids, gardeners, and janitors. A 2021 report noted that 22% of positions were unfilled during the pandemic.
In May 2022, Greece’s Labor Inspection Body (SEPE) started conducting inspections at hotels to ensure that laws and security regulations were being followed, according to the site.
Tourism Minister Vasilis Kikilias also announced the opening of 50,000 jobs in tourism to be offered to Greek expatriates or Ukrainian refugees. Meanwhile, a local tourism body suggested recruiting pensioners and teachers to address the shortage.
However, Greek worker unions have expressed concerns about potential pay disparities between Greek employees and foreign workers, particularly in light of the collective labor agreement signed in 2022.
Greek Travel Pages offers a dedicated online job-finding service that assists tourism industry businesses and job placement services by posting openings for workers at GTP Careers in Tourism.