|By Chadamas Chinmaneevong, Bangkok Post,
ThailandMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 08, 2013--A shortage of workers is becoming a big problem for the Thai hotel industry, and the government has offered no ideas for dealing with the issue.
Surapong Techaruvichit, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said hoteliers have faced a labour shortage since 2010, particularly in resort areas like Phuket, Samui and Pattaya.
A rapid increase in hotel rooms in many cities is making the shortage even worse.
"When the market is over-supplied and the hotels are short of staff, they are under more business pressure to compete with the others," said Mr Surapong.
His Asia Hotel Bangkok normally needs a staff of 700 to provide services for 600 rooms, but in recent years the hotel has had between 500 and 550 workers.
"Our staff shortage creates an impact on service quality, especially during the high season," said Mr Surapong.
Hoteliers are now pinning their hopes on a full liberalisation under the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2016 and an influx of foreign workers.
The THA wants to organise a job fair at some point to help the hotel business.
Chanin Donavanik, chief executive of Dusit International, said the country's strong economic growth of the past few years caused the hotel oversupply.
"We are seriously short of kitchen staff," he said. "Our country produces a very small number of workers for the service sector when compared to teachers and executives."
Mr Chanin said Thailand must quickly produce workers for the hotel industry before the AEC fully emerges in 2016.
The daily minimum wage of 300 baht is higher than that of many neighbouring countries. For example, the minimum wage in Vietnam is about 100 baht and the rate in Myanmar is one-fifth of the Thai wage. The minimum wage in the Philippines is 150 baht a day.
Mr Chanin noted that the minimum wage would not directly affect the hotel industry, as staff income in major cities is higher than 300 baht a day.
But Mr Surapong said he expects some effects in small cities as the private sector endures the wage increase.
(c)2013 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand)
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