ZAGREB Croatia's tourist facilities face a shortage of up to one-third of their workforce next year, head of the national association of biggest tourist firms Veljko Ostojic said on Friday.

Croatia's tourist industry, largely focused on the summer months on the popular Adriatic coast, accounts to almost 20% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and many seasonal workers can earn more in other countries.

"Some 100,000 people work in the tourist sector and we are missing some 30,000 to 35,000 people. The tourist businesses have no time to wait and many have kicked off campaigns to seek skilled people," Ostojic told Reuters.

Besides at local job market, the hoteliers and restaurant and bar owners seek skilled workers in other Balkan countries like Macedonia, Bosnia, Serbia or Montenegro, but also in some more distant areas like Ukraine or the Philippines.

They compete with better paid jobs in more affluent European Union countries, like Austria or Germany. From January Switzerland opens its job market for Croats which puts additional pressure on tourist businesses.

"The salaries for waiters or cooks are twice higher in Austria, for example, but we could compete with attractive accommodation conditions, quicker paperwork for working permits, lack of language barrier and proximity to home for the Balkan workers," Ostojic said.

Aminess, a northern Adriatic hotelier, is seeking 1,000 seasonal workers for next summer and has just kicked off a campaign to attract workers for positions like cooks, waiters, butchers, entertainers and cleaning staff.

"We seek workers with experience or adequate education, but it is not a must as we also invest in education of future employees. We will invest one million kuna ($150,102) next year," said Marina Peric, head of human resources in Aminess.

Ostojic said that tourist sector is urging digitalisation of paperwork for obtaining work permits for those coming from outside the EU.

"Without a workforce some facilities will remain closed or must shorten working hours," he said.

($1 = 6.6621 kuna)

(Reporting by Igor Ilic; editing by David Evans)