Hospitality sector pins hopes on incoming Ukrainians

Refugees could be answer for some of the 15,000 shortfall in staffing levels

Portugal’s hospitality association (AHP) admits there has been “some recovery” in the number of workers in the sector – but incoming Ukrainian refugees could help move the situation along a great deal more.

Raul Martins, president of the Portuguese Hotel Association tells Lusa that his organisation is in contact with the Ukrainian Embassy, IEFP, the High Commission for Migrations and various support associations to “expedite this situation, informing which hotels and what number of availabilities there are to refer people who are interested in working in tourism”.

“The refugees come to work”, he said. “They used to work in Ukraine, so they are people who are used to working and want to maintain their activity and they come looking for work. In general, from what historically already happens in Portugal, Ukrainians have quality of work.” 

By coincidence, the Resident met a Ukrainian mother who only recently arrived in the Algarve with her two young children, and is being temporarily housed in a local hostel.

She told us: “I cannot wait to work! I am used to working in restaurants. I am very happy to get any kind of work in hospitality. I want it!

There is no reason to believe Irina is any different from the thousands of other Ukrainian nationals streaming into Portugal right now. They are full of enthusiasm to simply move forwards.

Back in November, AHP was lamenting a shortfall of around 15,000 workers in tourism. Talk at the time was in “channeling labour from abroad, from the CPLP (Portuguese speaking community), Morocco, India, even the Philippines (which Mr Martins at the time described as essentially hispanics which would be able to easily integrate into Portuguese culture).

The war in Ukraine has changed the urgency to look so much further afield, and with so many bureaucratic and logistical issues – and Ukrainians and Ukraine, as European Commissioner Ursula Von der Leyen so eloquently put it recently, “belong in the EU”.

To this end, Raul Martins told Lusa his association is actively approaching refugees’ availability to work in the area of tourism, mainly hotels.

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