An anticipated record tourism year in Greece is facing a problem with a shortage of workers to staff facilities. These jobs, which offer low pay, long hours, no days off, and require workers to find their own accommodations, are being shunned by the Greeks.

While the Tourism Ministry promotes the country’s attractions and provides enticing slogans as reasons to visit, the worker shortage is causing major headaches for hotels, restaurants, and tavernas, some of which rake in huge profits while evading taxes.

As the spring season begins and a busy summer approaches, the government is signing deals with Egypt, Syria, Bangladesh, and even Pakistan, following the arrest of two Pakistanis in a terrorism plot.

Workers are also needed in other fields, such as agriculture, to fill positions that Greeks are unwilling to take, despite high unemployment rates. There is also a need for employees in livestock and fisheries, according to Egypt Independent.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated that they are working to activate the agreement signed with Egypt in agricultural production, but delays in granting visas could exacerbate the dilemma.

In 2022, there were 55,000-60,000 vacancies as tourists began arriving and pandemic health measures were eased. However, working conditions were so harsh that thousands of workers did not return, with some even having to sleep in their cars due to high island rents.

According to the Hellenic Federation of Industries (SEV), the level of employment deficit in Greece is 10%, compared to the European Union average, with jobs available in tourism and other industries remaining unfilled.

The Greek financial daily Naftemboriki reported that there are over 61,000 vacancies for jobs in hotels, and market agents suggested that the shortage should be increased by as much as 25% due to tourism workers moving to other sectors.

Giorgos Hontzoglou, President of the Panhellenic Federation of Food and Tourism Workers (POEET), told Naftemboriki, “How can foreign workers stay in Greece? In Spain, they work in hotels for a basic salary of 1,600 euros for five days, eight hours a day, which is strictly observed. Here they will receive 900 euros for 14 hours a day, 30 days a month.”