Labour shortages hold back tourism recovery

Labour shortages hold back tourism recovery

Tourists visit Wat Arun Ratchawararam (the Temple of the Dawn) in Bangkok on Sunday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Tourists visit Wat Arun Ratchawararam (the Temple of the Dawn) in Bangkok on Sunday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

Despite tourism's gradual recovery around the world, inflation and labour shortages remain big challenges for the hospitality industry, according to IHG Hotels & Resorts.

Rajit Sukumaran, IHG's managing director for Southeast Asia and Korea, said global inflation requires monitoring because it affects both operational costs and consumer expenditure.

Thailand's labour shortage might be less severe than elsewhere because workers can be enticed to return to the hotel industry, he said.

IHG recently opened seven hotels in Southeast Asia and South Korea, which required the recruitment of talent from inside and outside the industry with a focus on training to equip them with field experience, said Mr Sukumaran.

He said the global tourism industry has a positive trend for the second half.

The hotel sector's overall revenue per available room in the first quarter rose 62% from the same period last year, and was 82% of the pre-pandemic level.

Thailand's overall hotel occupancy rate was 32% in January 2022, before growing to 46% in May. The positive momentum is expected to carry on in the second half with the arrival of more international tourists.

IHG plans to open 35 new hotels in Thailand. One of them, InterContinental Khao Yai, will be the first international brand at the destination as Khao Yai becomes increasingly popular amongst foreign travellers, said Mr Sukumaran.

The hotel is scheduled to launch next month, offering 61 rooms. It is part of Swan Lake Khao Yai, a residential project located on 200 rai owned by Manit Udomkunnatum, the co-founder of Robinson Department Store.

Mr Sukumaran said the pandemic taught the company to market equally to domestic and international travellers and adapt to their different needs.

Earlier this month, IHG launched Sindhorn Midtown Hotel Bangkok, Vignette Collection, after the brand was started a year ago. The 393-room hotel, which opened in March 2020, was rebranded last year. IHG aims to open five more Vignette Collection properties in Thailand and eight around the world in five years, with a total of 100 over the next decade.


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