The summer tourist season has just begun, but the hotel association is already warning that Israel's hotels need more staff - 4,000 people.
Association president Ami Federman has written to Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, calling the problem serious. He said there are personnel shortages throughout the industry, especially in Eilat and at the Dead Sea. Federman said the 35,000 people working in the sector need another 4,000 colleagues. A third of the open positions are cleaning jobs, with the rest positions such as reception staff, security work and kitchen help.
The Tourism Ministry notes that the need for new staff accompanies a rise in tourist traffic. The ministry said it runs training programs to provide staff to hotels, but added that many of the jobs are seasonal. Meanwhile, manpower shortages are being felt in lower-level positions such as maintenance jobs, which many Israelis find unattractive.
The ministry said it has supported granting visas to foreign workers to work in hotels here, and seeks an overall solution to the problem. It said in a statment the ultimate decision on granting visas rests with the Interior Ministry, "whose policy is different."
Federman, the hotel association president, warned that the labor shortages could affect the hotels' ability to function; some might even have to shut down. He said the Eilat and Dead Sea areas cannot provide sufficient manpower for the hotels there, adding that shortages of cleaning and housekeeping staff were also afflicting the north.
Still, workers are being transported for the day from the north and south to hotels in the center of the country. This is being done at great expense and despite the lost travel time.