Iconic Bangkok road sees staff shortage as tourists return

Bangkok's Khao San Road.

An iconic Bangkok road is seeing a staff shortage as tourists return. Bangkok’s Khao San Road, renowned as a hotspot for backpackers, is seeing a comeback in tourism after the Covid-19 pandemic took them down.

Now, hotels, bars, and other businesses on the road are almost at pre-pandemic levels. Business operators report that their businesses are back to 90% to 95% of pre-Covid levels, the president of the Khaosan Business Association told Nation Thailand yesterday.

The president, Sanga Rueangwattnakun, said Khao San Road’s tourism could be seen bouncing back during the Fifa 2022 World Cup when tourists came to watch games on the road.

But Sanga said that businesses are still short-staffed after most workers were laid off or left their jobs during the pandemic.

Sanga said there is a growing concern that the tourism industry won’t be able to pick up the pace as tourists return. He said the number of arrivals is expected to rise during the first quarter of 2023.

Khao San Road isn’t the only spot in Thailand struggling with staff shortages. In Phuket, there were over 17,000 tourism job vacancies this month.

This month, hotels in Phuket have reported a labour shortage as Russian tourists pour into the holiday island. Hotels have been rallying the government to market hospitality jobs in Phuket to attract foreign workers. They say Thai people don’t want maintenance, kitchen, and food and beverage jobs.

At some three-star and four-star hotels, daily salaries of 400 to 500 baht a day have in some cases been increased to 700 or even 1,000 baht a day to attract employees for positions that desperately need to be filled.

Many hotels couldn’t afford to overstaff when there weren’t enough guests to pay the bills. Now they are caught unprepared when tourists – led by a swell of Russians – began swarming Phuket this month.

Will Thailand’s tourism hotspots find ways to attract skilled labour once again? We’ll see.

Bangkok NewsTourism News

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.