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Tourism sector issues fresh warning about labour shortages

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The Famagusta branch of the hotels’ association Pasyxe on Wednesday expressed concern ahead of the upcoming summer tourist season, noting that labour shortages remain an ongoing issue, despite the positive signs from several tourist markets.

“The reason for our concern is the serious lack of staff, which may even endanger the operation of some hotels,” the association said in a statement, indicating that labour shortages may prevent some tourist accommodation units from opening.

The association elaborated by saying that the positive signs it has received, primarily in terms of bookings and interest in the Famagusta district for the summer tourist season, are currently being offset by various assessments and pieces of communication regarding the serious lack of staff, describing these as being equally negative and worrying.

“The closer we get to the opening of the summer tourist season, the more the concern of hoteliers increases, which in many cases even endangers the operation of some hotel units,” the association stated.

“Pasyxe Famagusta calls on the Ministry of Labour to immediately proceed with the issuance of permits for personnel from third countries, through simple and short procedures, because otherwise all of the good work that has been achieved in the Cypriot tourism sector in recent years risks being destroyed due to a lack of employees,” it added.

The association concluded by saying that it expects the Ministry of Labour to provide an immediate solution to this major problem, in order to give hoteliers time to plan ahead and implement the necessary actions.

The same problem was echoed in February 2022, when restaurants and other hospitality venues in Paphos publicly said that they were struggling to find the number of workers required to keep their businesses in operation.

“We are asking that work permits are given to staff from third countries, including Georgia, Ukraine, Serbia, Russia and others,” Paphos Leisure Centre Owners Association (Sikap) president Angelos Onisiforou said at the time.

“If this is not done, hospitality venues in Paphos will face a huge problem and many of them will not be able to reopen,” he had added.

A few months later, in September 2022, the Cyprus hoteliers’ association (Pasyxe) president Philokypros Rousounides said that shortages had amounted to approximately 5,000 members of staff.

Rousounides also noted then that the 2023 tourist season should not have to face the same issue for yet another year.

During that time, the labour ministry said that approximately 4,000 European Union nationals who had previously worked in the Cypriot tourism sector left the country without subsequently returning to the domestic labour market.

This issue was also highlighted in a survey conducted by the Employers and Industrialists Federation (Oev), which showed that 15 per cent of EU workers who left Cyprus in 2021 had not since returned to the island for work.

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