Italy’s restaurants, hotels struggle to hire staff as lockdown eases and tourists return

Italy has eased coronavirus curbs and tourists have started visiting the country but restaurants and hotels are facing an unexpected problem since they can’t find the staff.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s unity government is counting on a robust rebound from last year’s recession, Italy’s deepest since World War Two, and is looking to tourism — aided by the EU’s new COVID-19 pass — to lead the way this summer.

But emerging recruitment difficulties, echoing reports of chronic labour shortages in the U.S., British and Australian hospitality industries, could hamper prospects for recovery in Italy and the wider euro zone.

“We are in trouble,” said Stefano Giuliodori, who is struggling to hire 12 waiters and chambermaids for his hotel in the Adriatic resort of Riccione.

“We are expecting a lot of visitors and we absolutely need staff, but it has become really difficult to find anyone.”

Alessandro Massimo Nucara, general director of hotel lobby group Federalberghi, estimates the labour shortage in the sector at around 10%, or 50,000 workers.

Employment data suggests young Italians should be desperate to work. In April, 33.7% of jobseekers aged between 15 and 24 were unemployed, one of the highest rates in the European Union.

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