The overwhelming majority (77 per cent) of Gozitan tourism operators are employing foreign workers to meet workforce demands, according to survey results made available by the Gozo Tourism Association (GTA), however, most operators find the bureaucratic process of obtaining the necessary work permits challenging.

The survey was conducted to understand the human resources situation prevailing within the Gozitan tourism sector, as well as the constraints faced by these establishments in their operations. Survey respondents ranged from operators involved in the accommodation sector, restaurants, diving centres, tourist attractions, transport, tour operators, travel agencies, real estate, destination management companies and tourism consultancy firms.

Despite hiring foreign workers, more than half of respondents (60 per cent) declared that they are still encountering difficulties to recruit new employees.

To address this challenge, Gozitan operators proposed fiscal incentives for employees in the tourism sector, as well as discontinuing unnecessary employment within the public sector.

Challenges with the bureaucratic process to obtain the necessary work permits was highlighted by 61 per cent of respondents as the main obstacle when it comes to employing foreign staff.

When asked what were the disadvantages of employing foreign staff, 41 per cent of respondents flagged the lack of basic knowledge of the job to be performed.

Other drawbacks mentioned were the low employee retention period (22 per cent) and poaching of trained staff (24 per cent). Another cohort of respondents (13 per cent) underlined a lack of knowledge in the English language.

When participants were questioned if their respective establishment required upgrading to meet the current visitor’s expectation, 56 per cent responded in the affirmative.

However, the majority (70 per cent) said that they are not financially in a position to implement the required upgrades and renovations.

Respondents also stated that wages, repairs and renewals and food and beverages costs were the three main operating costs that have increased considerably.

Finally, a mixed outlook for the rest of 2023 was expressed in this survey, as 25 per cent of respondents forecasted a better performance for their establishment compared to 2022, with 38 per cent predicting that 2023 will result on the same levels of 2022.

The remainder (37 per cent) forecasted that their business will perform worse than it did in 2022.

Through the findings of this survey, the GTA said it is in a position to suggest and put forward proposals to several relevant authorities to tackle the issues raised in this survey for the benefit of Gozo’s tourism sector.

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