Some hotels are still preparing to open. Will they have enough staff? | Josep Bagur Gomila

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Hotels in Mallorca and the Balearics are opening without, in many instances, having sufficient staff to cover all positions.

A reason for this is the high price of apartment rentals in tourist resorts. Hoteliers say that seasonal workers who come to the islands each year are being prevented from doing so because of the cost of accommodation. One solution is for hotel companies to buy apartments and therefore be able to lower this cost. It is otherwise common practice for hotels to rent accommodation for the season in order to house staff.

Easter is posing no particular issue, but the concern lies with the high season and the ability to provide adequate quality of customer service. The hotelier federations on the islands admit that there is a problem with the cost of housing, as this reduces the attraction of coming to the Balearics.

The general secretary of the UGT union's services federation, José García, appreciates the problem facing hoteliers, but stresses that properties that are bought or rented shouldn't become so-called patera flats, i.e. ones that are overcrowded. Rents paid by staff, he adds, must be affordable.

Silvia Montejano of the CCOO union agrees that the summer season could be marked by a lack of workers in the hospitality sector. "But companies which choose to provide accommodation for their employees must avoid overcrowding." The unions are calling on the Balearic government, island councils and town halls to ensure that urban plans have adequate stocks of social housing. If not, "there is little we can do if there is a lack of workers because of the cost to rent".

Another issue facing hoteliers is one that is being experienced elsewhere. The pandemic has led to workers leaving the hospitality sector and finding employment in other sectors. It has been notable over recent weeks that hotel companies have been organising job days in seeking to recruit hundreds of employees. Even these are said to have failed to attract sufficient candidates.

A potential shortage of staff is a matter recognised by the tourism supplier markets, where there is any event a similar problem. The president of Germany's DRV travel association, Norbert Fiebig, said in Palma last week that the season "may be clouded by a lack of workers in the hotels". In terms of tourist numbers, "the season will be very good", but lack of staff "could negatively affect the image of the islands".