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WEDNESDAY, February 08, 2023
Khao San Road runs short of staff to serve flood of festive tourists

Khao San Road runs short of staff to serve flood of festive tourists

TUESDAY, December 20, 2022

Business is roaring again on Khao San Road as foreign tourists return to celebrate Christmas and New Year. However, business owners in the Bangkok backpacking haven are suffering staff shortages as visitor numbers soar.

Abandoned by foreign tourists for almost three years of Covid-19, Khao San hotels, bars and other businesses have rebounded to almost pre-pandemic levels as Thailand’s high season takes off.

Sanga Rueangwattnakun, president of the Khaosan Road Business Association, told The Nation that local business operators are still short-staffed after most workers were laid off or left their jobs during the pandemic.

Other popular destinations around the country facing similar labour shortages include Phuket, which reported over 17,000 job vacancies in its tourism industry this month. Now, with arrivals expected to rise during the first quarter of 2023, concern is growing that the industry will not be able to pick up the pace as tourism returns to pre-Covid levels.

The Fifa 2022 World Cup saw foreign and Thai visitors flood Khao San Road to watch games on giant screens as the area returned to bustling normality.

Six months after Thailand lifted Covid restrictions in June, Khao San operators report that business is back to 90% to 95% of pre-Covid levels.

Khao San Road runs short of staff to serve flood of festive tourists

The end of the year always brings more foreign tourists to Khao San, with about 70% arriving from Western countries. However, this year almost all tourists staying in the backpacking hotspot are Westerners, Sanga said.

He suggested that energy and cost-of-living crises in Europe have made it too expensive for them to stay in their own countries this winter. Thai tourism destinations like Khao San Road offer affordable accommodation to stay over winter, he said, adding that he expects to see bigger crowds every day as New Year approaches.