The travel and tourism industry is still being impacted by worker shortages in countries across Europe. Across the European Union, 1.2 million travel and tourism industry jobs remain unfilled.

New data from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) found that thousands of unfilled jobs in the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Portugal might leave critical gaps in their travel and tourism industries and slow their individual recoveries.

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The WTTC recommends six key changes across these countries that would help increase the number of workers in their travel and tourism industries.

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The six changes are as follows.

(1) create more favorable visa policies to allow people from other countries to work during busy travel seasons, (2) encourage remote or flexible working policies, as well as part time or contractor-based ones, (3) ensure competitive employee benefits and compensation packages, (4) promote career paths within the industry with opportunities for growth, (5) support skilled workforces through educational programs and reskill current employees, (6) utilize technology to ease pressure on current workers.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom’s travel and tourism sector is currently seeing a gap in 130,000 unfilled jobs. One in fourteen job openings are expected to continue to remain empty as travel demand grows through the third quarter of 2022.

One reason for this gap is the refusal to allow temporary workers from other countries to fill these roles. The worst affected industries are the hotel, entertainment and aviation industries.

In 2019, 1.8 million people in the U.K. were employed in the industry; 200,000 lost their jobs during the pandemic. According to current numbers, 70,000 have been currently reemployed.

“The U.K. recovery is at risk. The government is not using the flexibility in the visa system to attract workers to the U.K. Travel & Tourism contributed nearly £235 billion to the economy and employed almost two million people,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO. “Now visitors are arriving to find restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues without staff, and we will lose these travelers and their dollars to other countries.”

Dijon France, Dijon
Street scene in Dijon, France. (Photo via Miwok / Flickr)

France

France is seeing a labor shortage of 71,000 workers across the country, which will be exacerbated by high demand going into the fall travel season.

Prior to the pandemic, the country employed 1.3 million people in the travel and tourism industry; 175,000 lost their jobs during the pandemic.

While France’s growth in an economic recovery and in employment is stronger than in the U.K., its aviation sector is expected to be most impacted, with one in three job postings being unfilled. Travel agencies also face one third of its pre-pandemic employment.

“The sector needs more staff to meet the current demand. The widespread travel disruption being experienced by millions of French holidaymakers is clear evidence of this,” said Julia Simpson. “If these 71,000 jobs remain unfilled, they could threaten the revival of Travel & Tourism businesses up and down the country, which have struggled for more than two years from the impact of the pandemic.”

Gondola ride in Venice, Italy
Gondola ride in Venice, Italy (Photo via Jasmine Mayfield)

Italy

Italy is the most impacted by a worker shortage, with a staggering need for 250,000 extra workers in the travel industry alone, with one in six jobs unfilled this year.

Prior to the pandemic, the country employed 1.4 million. Over 200,000 jobs were lost during the pandemic. While the industry saw a 58.5 percent growth in contribution to the country’s economy from 2021 onward, its staffing isn’t keeping up with its growth and demand.

Thirty-eight percent of jobs in the hotel and accommodation sector are expected to remain unfilled this year; 42 percent of jobs in the travel agent sector are expected to remain unfilled.

“Italy’s economic recovery will be put in serious danger if we don’t have enough people to fill the vacant jobs,” said Simpson. “If they remain unfilled, it will further dampen the revival chances of Travel & Tourism businesses across Italy which struggled for more than two years to escape the impact of the pandemic.”

Sunny Portugal Estoril Coast, Alentejo & Algarve
Sunny Portugal

Portugal

Portugal is currently experiencing a loss of 49,000 jobs in the industry, with about one in ten critical jobs being left unfilled.

While it’s experiencing the least need for workers, it’s still finding it hard to recover the over 80,000 jobs that were lost during the pandemic.

Overall, the travel industry in Portugal employed over 485,000 people in 2019 and experienced a growth of 32.6 percent in its contribution to its GDP beginning in 2021.

Portugal’s hotel industry is the most affected, as well as food and beverage, with 13 percent and 12 percent of job openings left unfilled.

“The Portuguese government has always put Travel & Tourism at the forefront of their agenda, and is already addressing this issue with strategic measures…” said Simpson. “The future of Travel & Tourism in Portugal looks bright, and in order to ensure a full recovery of the economy and the sector, we need to fill these vacancies to guarantee Portugal can meet the long-awaited travelers’ demand.”

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