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Thailand in need of a million more workers: poll


Asia is short of 7.7 million workers in the tourism industry and Thailand needs over one million skilled workers, according to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

China is tops in terms of needing skilled workers at 4.49 million, followed by India at 1.53 million, Thailand at 1.06 million, Indonesia at 250,000, Malaysia and Japan at 200,000 each, Singapore at 40,000, and other nations such as Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines.

STB conducted its manpower survey in 2013, the same year that it held a regional tourism survey focusing on new-generation tourism called Asian Millennial Travelers (AMTs).

Andrew Phua, director of exhibitions and conferences at STB, said yesterday that Asian nations not only face a shortage of skilled labour, but some countries also have their heads spinning with other issues such as aviation safety, airport services and infrastructure systems.

"Asia is the rising and huge market that we are all looking at," he said.

STB is working with national tourism organisations throughout the region, including the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and key private organisations such as Dusit International and the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau to seek strategies to ease the problems from the survey.

Several training programmes at levels ranging from executive to operating with mostly short-term courses have been launched to strengthen and improve human resources.

STB held a Singapore Dialogue in Bangkok to exchange the latest information on the tourism situation with entrepreneurs in Thailand.

It was a preview of STB’s annual event, TravelRave, which is scheduled to take place in Singapore from October 19-23.

This year’s theme was the dawn of Asean integration and the impact on regional and Thai tourism.

Phua said Asean is poised to capture a greater share of the global tourism market thanks to its diverse tourism products. With visitors to Southeast Asia expected to triple to 210 million by 2030, Asean needs to capitalise on the offerings of each country and explore opportunities.

According to the AMT survey – a study by STB, Visa and McKinsey & Company – citizens born from 1981-95 are the group that will be entering their peak earning and spending years over the next decade.

They are also expected to drive the travel industry not only in the region but also globally.

AMTs are expected to increase their spending on international travel by 1.6 times to US$340 billion (Bt11.9 trillion) by 2020.

To tap such opportunities, operators and tourism organisations are urged to capture that trend and seek ways to secure business over the long run. Three out of four workers globally are expected to be millennials by 2025.

"Hospitality brands and travel firms have to develop new concepts and ideas to draw the new generations who are claimed as connected and digitalised people.

"And the Asian tourism industry is fast coming into its own. In this diverse region, having relevant knowledge on evolving travel and consumer trends is vital," he said.

At TravelRave, participants will have the chance to learn about new trends and tourism prospects. There will be a luxury forum for the first time and China panel’s space will be extended from last year.

MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) events will also be a focus, while Singapore is promoting itself as cruise destination and pushing Changi Airport as a new destination particularly for shopping.

Published : September 24, 2015

By : SUCHAT SRITAMA The Nation