France’s hotel industry is bleeding from shortages

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Since May, the number of tourists visiting France has been steadily increasing. The sector knows, however, a lack of seasonal workers who were expected to work in hotels and restaurants. Moreover, in France, more and more sectors are experiencing a lack of seasonal staff, so workers from outside the EU have been accepted. Interior Ministry statistics show that since the beginning of the year, 22,000 non-EU nationals have been accepted to work in France.

France has approximately 1 million seasonal jobs, according to RFI. In the early 2010s, France granted somewhere around 1,000 work permits for foreigners who wanted to work for a limited period and in 2019, so before the health crisis, 5,500 permits were granted for seasonal work.

And in the first 7 months of 2022, 22,000 seasonal work permits have already been granted.

Laurent Duc is one of the leaders of the first employers’ union in the hotel and restaurant sector in France, and he noticed that a wide range of jobs were simply not in demand: tow truck drivers, agricultural workers, restaurant and hotel workers.

When unemployment is at 7% it is difficult to be found personally, the specialist explains:

“Every year there is a shortage of 200,000 employees. This year, however, 300,000 seasonal workers were absent. We had to adapt. The Parisian area was highly sought after by tourists, as has not been the case since 2019. The Côte d’Azur initially recorded slightly fewer tourists, but subsequently there were many last-minute bookings. Now, this shortage of staff comes amid the epidemic – many people have reoriented professionally in the last 2 years. It is normal, because some have not worked at all for more than 6 months, so now they are doing completely different jobs. Then unemployment is low at 7%. But, it’s not just us looking for staff. For example, one camp out of three remained closed this year, due to the lack of staff”.

Salaries are not the main problem, explains the leader of the employers’ union, but, for him, the working conditions and the relationship between employer and employee matter a lot.

On the other hand, the strong drought recorded this year in France, led some tourists to go to areas that were not too affected. So, there are areas that have recorded a record number of tourists.

At the same time, Laurent Duc explains that the gas bill for the hotel he owns went from 6,500 euros to 13,000 euros during the winter and he expects the worst in the coming winter.

In a study conducted in July, 53% of hotel and restaurant owners who participated in the research were not at all optimistic that the activity will be able to resume, this summer, at the level before the health crisis:

“Spring is not made with a flower. We cannot absorb 2 years of tourist deficit in 4 months, how many have passed since we registered slightly more tourists. We are optimistic because we are finding our customers. But, it remains to be seen whether we will be able to recover our business clientele. It is the segment that has decreased drastically. A third of those customers are gone because all business meetings are now online.”

Increasing inflation is causing the French tourist to reduce their holiday budget, says Laurent Duc:

“The first to be affected are restaurant patrons. People eat at restaurants less and less. During a vacation, tourists used to eat several times at the restaurant. Now, they shop at the supermarket and eat at the beach. It’s a reality. Then the hoteliers had to increase the prices by 15% and up to 25%”.