Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin (R) and Philippines Labor and Employment Minister Silvestre Bello sign a bilateral labor agreement, December 11, 2018 .
(photo credit: ODED KARNI)
Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin and Philippines Labor and Employment Minister Silvestre Bello III signed a bilateral labor agreement on Tuesday to enable the arrival of up to 1,000 Filipino workers to reduce a severe staff shortage currently affecting the Israeli hotel industry.
The agreement with the Philippines follows a similar accord permitting the employment of Jordanian workers in hotels in the Eilat area. By filling vacant positions, the Tourism Ministry hopes to reduce vacation costs and further advance tourism as an engine for economic growth.
“Incoming tourism to Israel continues to increase and break records
, hotels are accordingly full, and as a result of concessions and grants granted by the Ministry of Tourism to establish hotels, we have also seen unprecedented momentum in the construction of hotel rooms after years of stagnation,” said Levin.
“The primary obstacle which the ministry has needed to contend with is the shortage of manpower, and therefore the government has signed today an agreement increasing the quota of foreign workers in the hotel industry, thus providing a solution to the labor shortage in both housekeeping and cleaning.”
According to the Tourism Ministry, the industry has experienced difficulty in recruiting Israeli workers, regardless of wages, for hotel cleaning jobs. Currently there are 1,550 vacant cleaning positions in Israel. For jobs requiring training, including cooks and waiters, there are approximately 1,600 unfilled positions.
“The agreement signed today is the first round of cooperation and we have no doubt that this will directly affect the lowering of prices. I hope that the next agreement will be signed in the Philippine Embassy in Jerusalem,” said Levin.
“This is a welcome cooperation between the two countries and I am certain that this will lead to additional agreements, in the field of tourism and manpower, and of course in other areas as well,” said Bello.
Workers arriving in Israel as a result of the agreement will be English speakers, who will have completed a professional training program sponsored by the Filipino government. They will be employed directly by Israeli hotels and not through contractors.
Hotels in the Dead Sea area have been prioritized to receive additional workers, followed by the Tel Aviv and Central regions, and lastly Jerusalem and northern Israel.
The Filipino workers will join nearly 28,000 of their fellow citizens, who currently reside in Israel and are employed mainly as caregivers for the elderly.
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