Tour operators reluctant to fund staff training

Around a quarter of tourism businesses want to increase their workforces, but tour operators are reluctant to fund staff training, concerned about volatile demand. Bosses want taxpayers to pay their training expenses for them, according to the National Institute of Development Administration.

Tourism is perhaps the biggest driver of the Thai economy. Employers who can afford to say they want to increase their staff by around 10%.

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The lack of a tour guide has left this tourist unsure of how to approach Thailand’s most iconic tourist destination.

Piriya Pholphirul of the institute’s centre of development economics studies said…

“Tourism started gaining momentum after Covid-19 rules were lifted in the second half of the year.”

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Well over half of tour businesses still employ fewer staff than before the pandemic. Perhaps more worryingly, 7% of operators are planning to reduce their workforce because of their shrunken profits and workers’ demands for reasonable wages. More than half don’t plan any new hiring, and a third of them are looking to get more work out of whatever staff they already have without paying any more for it. There is a trend for hiring single “multi-skilled” workers to replace multiple workers with fewer skills.

Piriya said secondary provinces report more demand for staff than key destinations, except for Bangkok, which still had the highest demand.

Most operators have no plan to adjust their employment, while the great resignation – where people dump boring jobs to do something they enjoy – has not yet played much part in the tourism industry.

Speaking at the monthly meeting of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) on Thursday, Piriya said employees want job security, which is in sharp contrast to what employers want. Bosses want to opt-out of any responsibility for their workers by outsourcing everything they can.

Tour operators reluctant to fund staff training | News by Thaiger
Thailand has a shortage of tour guides fluent in languages such as Russian or French.

About a quarter of tourism workers plan to quit their jobs within two years, mostly because of low pay and lack of job security. Many tour operators have lost experienced workers and the number of younger workers still lags behind demand. In particular, there is a shortage of tour guides fluent in languages such as Russian or French, and the market is overwhelmed by Chinese and English speakers.

ATTA has proposed that the government pay staff training costs for tour operators reluctant to pay themselves, by setting up a skills development fund with investment from the private sector. For example, the government could subsidise training fees for employees who want to improve their language skills and thereby assure greater profits for operators.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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