Warning to tourists as Spanish hotels forced to close floors due to no staff

Spanish hoteliers are running the risk of shutting their doors this summer as they struggle to find staff members to join their crews ahead of the holiday season. If you do a quick Google search with the words “jobs” and “hotels” in Spain, you will probably receive dozens of results on your screen within seconds.

Job portals are now full of job offers for hotel staff with a view to the summer season, which is expected to be a record-breaking one. The companies are unanimous in their diagnosis: there is a shortage of staff.

‌”We are having a lot of difficulty finding workers,” says the general secretary of the Hotel and Tourism Business Association of the Valencia Region (Hosbec), Nuria Montes, in conversation with ABC.

This employers’ association, which represents hotels in Alicante, Valencia and Castellón, estimates that there is still 20 per cent of the workforce that normally works in high season in tourist accommodation in the community, which amounts to between 16,000 and 17,000 workers, according to their calculations.

“The companies are still looking for employees, and many of them have brought forward their recruitment seasons in order to have the necessary staff in these months, looking for them in March instead of in May,” Montes points out.

For the general secretary of the Valencian employers’ association, the lack of workers “is a structural issue in the labour market, but seasonal employment can make it more visible”.

He added: “The lack of workers is a problem that we have on the table, we think that it is the result of many circumstances and variables that need to be taken seriously”.

Although she acknowledges that “there are many causes”, Montes describes that “it is a trend that has been detected since after the pandemic”, a time when many employees in the tourism sector left the sector – looking for other options after the closures – and did not return.

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“We find it difficult to fill the less qualified positions, such as chambermaids, cleaners or kitchen assistants, but there is also a lack of qualified staff such as chefs, receptionists who speak other languages, maintenance managers,” she said.

“In the hotel industry in general there is a lack of jobs in all areas, but there are some very marked ones, because cleaning rooms is a necessity.”

For this reason, the general secretary of Hosbec points out, “there are hotels that have had to close floors, that cannot offer them, because they have no staff to attend to them”.

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As she describes it, “these are hotels that in high season, when they could have sold 100 per cent of rooms, they have closed floors because they don’t have staff”.

The lack of workers “has been a structural problem, with the incorporation of young people into the labour market being a third less than 20 years ago, while employment in the hotel and catering industry has doubled”, according to the employers’ association.

According to the association, the difficulty in finding workers is to be found firstly in “the lack of specific training”, followed by “difficulties in adapting to working hours, in more than half of the cases”.

In last place, according to the employers’ association, “lack of professionalism or disinterest”.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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