One in five owners of tourism businesses have warned that they face closure due to the problem of trying to find the right staff.
Employers in the tourism sector have expressed concern about stress levels and negative impact on customer experience as almost nine out of 10 admit difficulties in recruiting staff.
The results of a survey carried out by the national tourism development authority, Fáilte Ireland, showed 20% believed the impact of staff shortages would be the closure of their business.
It also found that seven out of 10 owners have had difficulty in rehiring staff they had let go due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The survey of almost 600 employers, including almost 140 hotels, shows a large majority of businesses in the tourism sector are experiencing major recruitment challenges.
They claim the most significant barrier to hiring staff is the Pandemic Unemployment Payment with two-thirds of employers claiming people were reluctant to return to work and now had higher wage expectations.
Tourism businesses also pointed out that many international workers had left Ireland, while there is also a perception that jobs in the industry are unstable.
According to the survey, 37% of employers claim obtaining work permits for non-EU workers was a barrier to recruitment.
Some pointed out that the €30,000 threshold for being eligible for work permits created a problem as they could only afford to pay staff a lower rate.
However, only 13% said health and safety concerns among potential staff were an issue.
The research showed that three-quarters of employers in the sector were trying to cope by training new staff with limited skills and experience as well as offering extra hours to existing staff.
Two-thirds of employers reported that they felt they might have to reduce capacity or trading hours because of staff shortages.
“While some of these challenges are new, pre-existing challenges were exacerbated by the crisis and are now much more acute,” Fáilte Ireland said.
The survey found tourism businesses experienced most difficulty in the food and beverage sector with chefs and managers very hard to recruit and retain.
Employers also reported problems in finding front of house staff and middle managers, while coach operators said they had lost drivers over the past year.
Fáilte Ireland said it had already launched a campaign to attract new staff to the tourism industry while it was supporting sector bodies engaging with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment regarding permits and visas as it acknowledged that the frustration felt by employers where they couldn’t find Irish staff, while willing overseas works cannot get permits.