Live from Brussels – Issue 117
September brings with it a flurry of activity for HOTREC, as the Brussels scene returns to its familiar rhythm. It’s the ideal moment to pause and reflect on the progress made during the summer. To this end, we reached out to our membership, representing 47 associations in 36 European countries, and sought their insights into the industry’s performance.
Our survey, overall, paints a rather mixed picture. When assessing their views on the summer of 2023, approximately 41% of our members reported only moderate satisfaction – with just 17% describing the season as “very good.” This sense of subdued optimism reflects a general atmosphere of concern – even in the face of reasonably high occupancy rates and capacity levels.
Unsurprisingly, 92% of our membership identified labour and skills shortages as the top challenge faced by the industry this summer – a topic that President Von der Leyen stressed in her State of the Union address. “74% of SMEs are saying they are facing skill shortages,” she stated. “In the peak of the tourist season, restaurants & bars in Europe are running reduced hours because they cannot find staff.”
The staffing crisis also took centre stage at the Bled Strategic Forum, which I had the privilege to attend earlier this month. Additionally, our members highlighted other challenges, with 87% expressing concerns about the skyrocketing costs of energy and food, and 42% grappling with issues surrounding cash flow management and loan terms.
It’s worth noting that a significant 63% of our members reported that natural disasters and extreme temperatures severely disrupted business operations in their respective countries. As expressed by HOTREC’s President, Mr. Alexandros Vassilikos, during our Executive Committee meeting in Athens, “The vulnerability of the European tourism industry to climate change is undeniable. The sector is committed to act – and act fast – to implement sustainable practices.” I am confident that we can contribute effectively. A vital step in achieving this, as indicated in the recent HOTREC Study ‘A Roadmap to Net Zero for European Hospitality,’ will be assisting hospitality companies – especially SMEs – in implementing sustainable practices.
Another top concern for HOTREC members is the urgent need for basic rules to regulate Short-Term Rental accommodations. In this regard, we warmly welcomed yesterday’s vote by the European Parliament Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee, seeing it as one step closer to further protecting European hotels.
Lastly, for a comprehensive understanding and recap of the summer’s developments, I invite you to read our interview with Ms Ourania Georgoutsakou, Managing Director of Airlines for Europe, with whom we had the pleasure of exploring the current challenges and opportunities within the European airline industry.
I want to thank our members for their invaluable insights, and I eagerly anticipate meeting them on 25-27 October in Brussels for HOTREC’s 87th General Assembly.
Stay tuned and enjoy your reading.