Tourism sector staffing shortage a global issue


The travel and tourism sector’s recovery could be put at serious risk if almost 1.2 million jobs remain unfilled across the European Union.

The challenging summer labour shortfall has been revealed by the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) latest analysis of the sector, which has called for urgent action to address the issue.

At the peak of the pandemic in 2020, the travel and tourism sector across the EU suffered the loss of almost 1.7 million jobs.

As restrictions eased in 2021, the sector only recovered 571,000 jobs.

This year, WTTC projects that the sector’s recovery will continue to accelerate and almost reach pre-pandemic levels but staffing shortfalls remain.

A serious number of vacancies are likely to remain unfilled during the busy summer period, with travel agencies forecasted to be the worst hit with nearly one in three vacancies unfilled (30%).

Meanwhile, air transport and accommodation segments are likely to suffer one in five unfilled vacancies, representing 21% and 22% staff shortage respectively.

“Europe showed one of the strongest recoveries in 2021, ahead of the global average. However, current shortages of labour can delay this trend and put additional pressure on an already embattled sector,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO.

“Governments and the private sector need to come together to provide the best opportunities for people looking for the great career opportunities that the travel sector offers.”

The WTTC and European Travel Commission (ETC) have been working with key stakeholders to better coordinate the response measures at the EU level.

“Europe, as the leading and most competitive tourism destination in the world, is committed to becoming the most sustainable one,” said Luis Araujo, ETC president.

“But the goal of the twin transition (green and digital) will only be achieved if we succeed in attracting and retaining talent for this sector. This is one of the biggest challenges for the sector and needs coordinated, multi-layered and joint public and private solutions.”