The current deregulation in the South of Tenerife is posing a threat to economic development and the free market, primarily due to the severe shortage or even absence of residential housing. This issue is critically impacting the tourism sector, particularly for hoteliers, who are struggling to fill job vacancies essential for normal operations.
As we approach what is expected to be a bustling Easter and summer season, potentially matching last year’s activity levels, the challenge lies in recruiting qualified employees who can afford to live in the region. The alternative for many workers might be less desirable accommodations like caravans or, in worse cases, tents.
Yesterday, some of Spain’s major hotel chains announced their need for approximately 7,200 workers for the coming months. Meliá is seeking 2,500 employees, while Barceló and Iberostar are each looking for 1,500, and Palladium aims to hire 3,200. A critical issue they face is the lack of affordable housing for these workers, leading them to offer incentives such as room and board or rental contracts to facilitate hiring.
Miguel Villarroya, CEO of Spring Hoteles, acknowledged the complexity of hiring staff due to the housing shortage. He noted that the pandemic caused many workers to leave, and now returning is challenging due to high rental prices. “This is not our case,” he clarified, “as we have a long-standing and settled staff base with their own homes. But it’s quite a general problem in the tourism industry in the South.”
Ashotel, the provincial hotel employers’ association, had already raised concerns in 2022 about the lack of housing for sector workers. This year, they highlighted that from 2015 to 2023, the number of holiday homes increased by 60%, coinciding with a period where rents in the South doubled. Ashotel also emphasized that hotels across the Canary Islands employ 77,000 people, a stark contrast to the impact of tourist rentals.
The organisation pointed out that the accommodation sector not only generates employment but also contributes significantly through taxes, with 3,400 million euros in the Islands. They question the comparative economic contributions and job creation of holiday homes. This situation underscores the urgent need for a balanced approach to housing and tourism development in the region.