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Eastern European migrant experience working in UK hospitality sector and community integration.

Eastern European migrant experience working in UK hospitality sector and community integration.
Author: Renate Mazgalvina
2 Commentries
Abstract: This conference paper’s purpose is to explore how migrants, who work in hospitality industry, social interactions with natives, in the new community, are limited. Whether or not hospitality work is what restricts migrant workers prospects to community integration. The particular focus of this paper is on Eastern European migrants who constitute a significant part of hospitality workforce in UK.

Key words: Migrants, Rights, Language, Vulnerability, Integration, Hospitality.

The aim of this conference paper is to discuss how work in hospitality industry restricts migrant workers prospects to community integration. The particular focus of this paper is on Eastern European migrants and hospitality industry which is one of the vital parts of the tourist experience. As Smith (1994) states, hospitality is one of five principal components of the tourism product, without which tourist activity could not take place.
The hospitality industry is very reliant on particular types of workers which include migrants (Lucas & Mansfield, 2008). Migrants have historically formed a significant part of the tourism industry workforce (Choi et al., 2000; Williams & Hall, 2000). After the European Union’s enlargement in 2004, a huge group of people from Eastern Europe travelled to UK and also joined the industry (Janta, Ladkin, Brown & Lugosi, 2011). Hospitality sector is the fourth largest employer of migrants, 6% of all migrants that come to UK, work in hospitality industry (People1st.co.uk, 2014).
To be able to determine whether or not working in hospitality influences migrant’s ability to integrate into community, it is necessary to outline what is integration. Integration is a process through which migrants become accepted into the new community, inclusion of migrants in the institutions and creation of relationships in the host’s society (Bosswick & Heckmann, 2015). When migrants move to a new destination they need to build new social networks to connect with the new community. Whether or not the community is more prone to accept new people in their community varies, nonetheless it is a fact that success of a newcomer’s integration is not merely reliant on the individual, but rather on an assortment of involved players for example: host government, institutions and of course the community (Penninx, 2003).
Going back to the discussion, even though there are numerous negative issues within the hospitality industry including - low status, low pay, part time or seasonal employment and of course the unsocial hours (Walmsley, 2004). For these reason locals are not keen to engage in this type of work, consequently migrants are seen as a solution for the shortages within the sector.
Yet migrants see hospitality work as an entry level job because it is easily accessible, without knowledge of language if compared to other industries (Janta, Ladkin, Brown & Lugosi, 2011). It is also viewed as a plus that the industry gives an opportunity for migrants to develop their language skills and linguistic competence. Furthermore language knowledge is seen as a key advantage that can lead migrants to better work options. Besides that, it definitely helps in adjusting to life in the destination (Brown, 2008), while its absence limits access to information and/or support that can in turn lead to social exclusion (Spencer, Ruhs, Anderson & Rogaly, 2007). Correspondingly if migrant’s language skills continuously doesn’t improve, the surrounding community members could perceive that as a sign that they don’t want to or are unwilling to integrate. However migrants’ lack of integration may be intensified more by tourism employment then lack of linguistic competence if compared. For example when employment patterns restrict social mobility because of the unsocial working hours, it should be time for socialisation as it is for others and that restricts not only language development, but also community integration, thus the demand cycle is anti-social (Baum, Amoah & Spivack, 1997).
Another example would be when hospitality organisations reinforce the formation of ethnic areas and social closure. Because of the low language skills many migrants enter jobs within the hospitality sector, mainly in back of house positions. Considering that they are placed in back of house positions, how will they be able to gain the positive side of hospitality work: the linguistic development? Learning is a process that involves real experiences, namely engagement in actual activities, reflective observation and active experimentation (Kolb, 1984). Not having those experiences and activities can only intensify the integration problem, as migrants working in enclaves speak their own language, which consequently reinforces ghettoisation (Adler & Adler, 1999).
However hospitality jobs are seen as temporary. It has been argued that “for most employees, the hospitality sector is not a career option, but rather a preparation for a career in the future” (Riley, Ladkin, & Szivas, 2002) and “a mere stopover to something better” (Wildes, 2007). Main reason being the reluctance of employers to develop human capital, largely due to associated cost (Lucas, 2004).
Even though hospitality work is perceived as a short stop on the way to something better, if the skills of migrants are not developed, how can they find a better carrier alternative? It could be argued that employers do it on purpose as they rely on the migrant workforce and the reluctance of employers to develop human capital, is because there is no need for spending money on them, as new migrant workers will come and take their place.
Work in hospitality industry creates imbalance between work and life (Karatepe & Uludog, 2007; Wong & Ko, 2009), besides holding migrants from developing language capabilities and creating social networks, it creates an environment that keeps migrant workers from integrating within the surrounding community.


Choi, J., Woods, R. H., & Murrmann, S. K. (2000). International labor markets and the migration of labor forces as an alternative solution for labor shortages in the hospitality industry. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 12(1), 61–66.

Janta, H., Brown, L., Lugosi, P. and Ladkin, A. (2011) Migrant relationships and tourism employment. Annals of Tourism research Vol. 38 (4)

Lucas, R., & Mansfield, S. (2008). Staff shortages and immigration in the hospitality sector. [online] Available from: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/workingwithus/mac/23 9769/lucasandmansfield2008 (Accessed on: 19.04.2015)
A reflection on the conference paper on migrant integration in the local community.
Author: Elizabeth Morris
The purpose for making a commentary on this paper is because of a common interest in the subject of migrant integration into a new community and also due to the closely related subject of my own conference paper on female migrants working in the hospitality sector. As my own paper discussed the potential exploitation of female migrants, it was interesting to read about the further restrictions migrant workers face, particularly within the hospitality industry.

The author makes a point of how migrants end up working within the ‘back of house’ positions in the hospitality industry. The idea that because of their linguistic difficulties they are seen are being more useful working in the jobs where limited social interactions are necessary. Similar to a point made by McDowell (2007) she argues that employers and managers use stereotypical assumptions about the embodied attributes of workers. This is a common misconception made by employers that reduces many migrant workers to being confined to working in groups with other migrant workers which ultimately reduces their abilities of mixing with the local community.

Gadow (2009) suggests that many migrant workers are often found to be young, not fully literate in the English language, with minimal financial resources, limited social networks in the UK and often have restricted welfare rights due to their immigration status in the UK. It is these points that were discussed in my own paper as being the main factors in which migrant workers are exploited and vulnerable in the work place. The author of this paper discusses similar points as to which result in difficulties in integrating into a new community, stating these factors as being the host government, institutions and the local community (Penninx, 2003). Language barriers result in migrants having difficulties in understanding their rights and also the support in which they are entitled to whilst loving and working in the UK, these restrictions can often lead to social exclusion.

The main issue overall which is likely to result in social exclusions is down to the way the local community perceives migrants. There is often a negative connotation towards migrant workers particularly because of their willingness to work the low skilled, low paid jobs. With the recent economic difficulties, many communities have pointed the finger at migrant workers being responsible for the lack of jobs available to their own. This has ultimately resulted in almost ‘hard feelings’ towards migrant workers, and therefore an unwillingness to accept their presence. This is another issue that could be discussed further by the author.

The Author makes a valid and interesting point about the hospitality industry holding migrants back from integrating with local communities; this idea that the lack in support and the unsociable hours involved with working within the industry is a key factor to their difficulties.


Gadow, A. (2009) Protecting migrant workers in unprecedented times: Why little has changed for gangmasters licensing. [Online] Paper delivered to COMPAS Annual Conference 2009. Available from: http://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/events/annual-conference-2009/

McDowell, L. & Batnitzky, S.D. & Dyer, S. (2007) Division, Segmentation, and Interpellation: The Embodied Labors of Migrant Workers in a Greater London Hotel. Economic Geography. 83 (1) 1-15.
Migrant experience with local community
Author: Kristine Puisane
The main reason for selecting this particular conference paper is trough having keen interest in this theme and topic also due to my own developed conference paper about migrant workers, their exploitation and mistreatment. Moreover, from my opinion this theme requires more attention of the researchers and it is essential to identify key factors that affect worker rights and their relationship with locals.

The conference paper begins with clear introduction, explained the aim of the particular work as well as supported by the appropriate literature. The author provides deep interest and theory about workers experience while working within UK market. As well as several issues were identified that rise difficulties among migrants and locals. Author mentioned that Eastern European migrants mainly get only dirty and hard jobs with low wages. The accurate statistics are proving elusive, the Government estimates that since the EU’s signing of the Accession Treaty in April 2003, where freedom of movement for workers was granted to the A8 countries (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) the trend for people entering the UK for the purpose of work has risen sharply (mmu, 2008). This has led to the issue of migrant workers within United Kingdom. Moreover, around 21% (Labour Force Survey 2006) of those are employed in the hospitality industry and with the prediction that “all demand for low-skilled labour is expected to be filled by jobseekers from the A8 countries in the EEA” (IRS 2006 p.42) the proportion of migrants in hospitality will certainly continue to increase.

In the UK, hospitality employers have reported positive stereotypical assumptions of Polish workers, which include having a good work ethic, commitment and acceptance of low wages (McDowell et al., 2006). There is no doubt that the main occurred issue is the relationship between migrants and locals communities and the way how local people despise migrants, especially migrants from Poland. This might be explained by the massive flow of polish emigrants travelling to UK in order to find a job. There are an estimated 610,000 Polish workers registered as employed in the UK (Home Office, 2009). With economical crisis the majority of people mentioned that migrant workers steal the job placement of the local residents. Furthermore, migrant workers are blamed to be a cause of UK economic downturn.

Overall this discussion paper is well structured and discusses the main appeared issues of the Eastern European migrant experience. Author has developed interesting paper that might be developed further.


Mmu (2008) British Jobs for British workers [online]. [Accessed 11 May 2015]. Available at: <http://www.business.mmu.ac.uk/research/symposium2008/extendedabstract/MansfieldSteveExtendedAbstract.pdf>;

Janta, H., Ladkin, A., Brown, L. and Lugosi, P. (2011) Employment experiences of polish migrant workers in the UK hospitality industy [online]. [Accessed 11 May 2015]. Available at: <http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/791825/1/Janta%20et%20al%20TM%20Exper..pdf>;