At least 8,000 tourism workers are urgently needed by hoteliers in Austria to run their businesses during the holiday season.
Austria is preparing for the winter season. As important as the summer season is for the tourist season in Greece, so are the holidays for Austria, but also the months that follow, especially February. Millions of visitors from all over the world enjoy the modern ski slopes, but also the night entertainment after skiing, for which the Alpine country is also famous. This year, however, hoteliers are facing an unprecedented shortage of staff for the winter. “In the coming weeks we will need at least 8,000 seasonal workers, maybe 10,000, to meet the needs of the season,” Susanne Krauss-Winkler, a spokeswoman for the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKO), told Austrian media.
The reasons for the lack of employees are many. First of all, as in other countries, many left the profession during the lockdown, looking for alternatives after many months of inactivity. According to data published by the newspaper Der Standard in July, “only six out of ten tourism workers return to work after the pandemic.” “After all,” Kraus-Winkler points out, “the market for these professions is global, so in theory the person concerned has a great deal of choice as to the country in which he wants to work.” For example, many times a seasonal worker in Austria prefers to continue the same job in neighboring Switzerland, where wages are higher.
Problem with vaccinations
Austria is also chosen for seasonal work by many Russians or other Eastern Europeans. But there is an additional problem here: Most of them have been vaccinated with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, which is not usually recognized in Western Europe. Under Austrian law these people are unvaccinated, so they cannot work. The problem concerns at least 3,000 potential employees. “For weeks we have been calling on the government to find a solution, for example it could allow an additional dose of vaccine with another drug, which is recognized in Austria,” said Susanne Kraus-Winkler.
Of course, many of the prospective Eastern European customers will also have a problem with the Sputnik V vaccine during the holiday season. Austria has tightened its legislation since Monday and many hotels only allow customers who have been vaccinated or recovered from the coronavirus. All of this may deter some visitors, but “a safe season is definitely better than canceling the season,” says a spokeswoman for the hotel industry. What is certain, he adds, is that tourism entrepreneurs could not afford another season like the winter of 2020/2021, when most accommodations were closed and their owners survived on state subsidies.
Businesses open for … half a week
Some are looking for practical solutions to get through the winter with fewer employees if needed. “Some restaurants may not be open for seven, but only four days a week, or some menu items may even be removed,” says Susanne Krauss-Winkler. However, the industry representative warns that any cuts should be made sparingly, as the Austrian economy is heavily dependent on tourism and “public confidence in a high-quality product such as the winter season must not be shaken”.
In 2019, before the pandemic, the annual turnover of hotels, boarding houses and all kinds of accommodation in Austria exceeded ten billion euros. Only 18 hotels had more than 250 employees. In most cases these are small or family businesses, employing up to seven permanent employees.
Giannis Papadimitriou (N-TV, DPA, ORF)
Source: Deutsche Welle
Source From: Capital