Shortage of personnel dampens willingness to open up in Austria

After seven months of forced Corona break, Austria reopens to tourists. Hoteliers and restaurant operators are desperately looking for service staff. The industry hopes and fears.

The ship mooring in St. Wolfgang on Lake Wolfgang in July 2020

Mor more than half a year hotels and restaurants in Austria were closed. Now that the number of corona infections has dropped significantly and the number of vaccinations is increasing, they are allowed to reopen from Wednesday. The rooms in many hotels and spas, especially in rural areas, were sold out within hours: Descriptions of the booking situation on Whitsun and the following weekends range from “very good” to “excellent”. But many innkeepers who are still struggling with the total failure of the winter season are facing the next problem: the teams are not well-rehearsed after the long lockdown, and worse: there are no employees.

Of course, she’s waiting for Wednesday with a pounding heart, says hotel entrepreneur Susanne Kraus-Winkler. “After the long closing time, the employees have to go from zero to 100, the hand movements have to be perfect, safety regulations must be observed, guests are served as best as possible.” That is “a challenge with a few strangers”. As the hotel industry chairwoman of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, she oversees the industry. That is why she knows: “We will certainly lack a lot of skilled workers.” The scope depends on the region and the type of company. Rule of thumb: Owner-run hotels in the country are likely to get off better than congress hotels in the city.