Sun, Sep 02, 2018 - Page 15 News List

Sun, sand and a workforce shortage at popular Hungarian resort

A labor shortage that has plagued Lake Balaton’s tourism industry exemplifies a national problem caused by low salaries and anti-immigration policies

By Geza Molnar  /  AFP, SIOFOK, Hungary

The problem extends far beyond Lake Balaton.

Seen as a relatively cheap holiday destination, the number of tourists to Hungary has climbed 7 percent this year, after already reaching a record 29.5 million overnight hotel stays last year, Hungarian Central Statistical Office data showed.

To compensate for a lack of workers, several Budapest hotels have started to simplify reception services inspired by airline companies’ online check-in systems.

However, the problem is hard to solve for jobs that require expertise, such as cooks, head waiters and waitresses or managers.

Seeking to offer a solution, the government is trying to convince pensioners to return to work by exempting them from having to pay social contributions and capping taxes at 15 percent.

Since last year, Budapest has permitted workers from neighboring non-EU countries Ukraine and Serbia to work in Hungary for up to 90 days without a work permit.

However, the measures have failed to solve the shortage.

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