This tourist season, 1.2 million jobs in hospitality and tourism in the European Union remained unfilled, with travel agencies being the most affected, followed by the aviation industry and the accommodation sector, and Italy has the biggest problem with a lack of workers.
Croatia has somehow prepared and adapted for this season when it comes to large employers, and the most problems throughout the season are micro-entrepreneurs who do not have the capacity or means for systematic staffing. The entire sector is asking the Government for concrete solutions that would speed up all processes for next year.
Analysis by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) showed that in 2020 the travel and tourism sector across the EU suffered the loss of almost 1.7 million jobs, only to see 571,000 jobs regained last year when governments began easing travel restrictions.
This year, tourist traffic in Europe is almost reaching pre-pandemic levels, which means that Europe is above the global average, but this good trend is significantly threatened by the lack of manpower, warns the Council.
They predict that travel agencies will be the hardest hit this season with a 30% shortage of workers (almost one out of three vacancies unfilled), while the air traffic and accommodation segment will have one out of five unfilled jobs.
WTTC collected labour force data for Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, and the UK. Their data show that Italy is the most affected of all the analyzed European countries because this season there is a shortage of 250,000 workers, leaving one out of six vacancies unfilled.
Croatia imported thousands of tourism workers by June
The tourism sector in Italy employed almost 1.4 million people before the pandemic in 2019, but in 2020 more than 200,000 jobs were lost. WTTC’s analysis shows that the accommodation and travel agencies segment will be the worst affected, facing more than one-third (38%) and almost half (42%) of unfilled jobs, respectively.
This is followed by Spanish tourism, which this season lacks 137,000 workers, which means that one out of 8 vacancies will remain unfilled, with the aviation sector having the most problems, followed by hotels.
In French tourism this season, 70,000 jobs remained unfilled, i.e. one out of 19 vacancies. Before the pandemic, more than 1.3 million people were employed in the sector, and in 2020, almost 175,000 of them lost their jobs. In France, the aviation industry has the most problems, not being able to fill one out of three jobs, which thousands of passengers feel on their skin every day.
Brexit is costing the UK
Portugal has the smallest problem, lacking 49,000 workers in the third quarter, that is, one out of 10 vacancies remaining unfilled. Before the pandemic, more than 485,000 people were employed in tourism in Portugal, and in 2020, more than 80,000 jobs were lost.
In the United Kingdom, Brexit has dramatically accentuated the problem which all countries are facing, and the Government is not using the flexibility of the visa system to attract workers, warned Julia Simpson, executive director of the WTTC.
“Travel and tourism contributed almost £235 billion to the UK economy and employed almost two million people, and now they are at risk of losing a large number of travellers to other countries due to a lack of workers”, says Simpson. The UK has a shortage of 128,000 workers, that is, one out of 14 jobs is vacant. The aviation industry suffers there, too.
The WTTC and the European Travel Commission (ETC) have therefore identified six measures that governments and the private sector can implement to tackle this urgent problem
In the first place, they propose facilitating labour mobility within countries and across borders and strengthening cooperation at all levels, including issuing visas and work permits. Another measure is to enable flexible telecommuting, particularly if travel restrictions continue to prevent workers from moving freely across borders.
The next measure is to ensure decent working conditions, along with social security and providing opportunities for career advancement, to strengthen the attractiveness of the sector and retain new talents. The next measure is investing in the training and education of employees so that the workforce acquires new skills.
The promotion of education and practice with effective policies and public-private cooperation that supports educational programs and practice-based training is also sought. The last measure is the adoption of innovative technological and digital solutions to improve business.
By the end of June, Croatia had imported around 22,000 workers in tourism, and it is estimated that the sector lacks between 5,000 and 10,000 workers. Micro-entrepreneurs, caterers who only need a few workers each have the most problems but do not have the money and capacity to engage in finding workers, like the big ones.
Half of the seasonal workers return
“To relieve the administration and speed up the issuance of work permits, the idea is to maximally simplify the procedure for obtaining a work permit for foreign workers who are now working in Croatia, if they remain with the same employer.
Since about 50% of seasonal workers return, this would be a significant step forward, which would relieve the Ministry of Interior, and it is also important to know the estimate that about 30% of foreign workers give up engagement in Croatia precisely because of slow procedures.
At the same time, it is important that, if such a practice is introduced, it is communicated to the workers now, so that people have security for next year”, says the director of the Croatian Tourism Association Veljko Ostojić.
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