The foreign tourists are flocking back to Bangkok’s Khao San Road, but they may notice that service is a bit slower than normal. Businesses on the popular tourist thoroughfare, like just about all tourism destinations, are struggling to cope with staff shortages that are hampering their ability to cope at the busiest time of the year.
Khao San’s hotels, bars, restaurants and other venues are once more open for business, following a closure of nearly 3 years, due to the pandemic. And the good news is that demand is almost back at pre-pandemic levels. The bad news is staff numbers are not.
Thailand’s hospitality industry has been decimated by the pandemic, initially by all the hotels and tourism infrastructure being closed down, and now, because the former staff don’t want their old jobs back.
The president of the Khao San Road Business Association points out that as most employees either left or lost their jobs at the start of the pandemic lockdown, businesses now face a real challenge.
According to Sanga Rueangwattnakun, businesses on Khao San are reporting that demand is back to nearly 95% of pre-Covid levels. He adds that normally at this busy time of year, around 70% of tourists on Khao San Road are from Western countries. However, this year, he says nearly every tourist staying in the area is a Westerner.
Sanga believes the cost-of-living crisis in Europe is behind the increase, as rising energy costs have made it too expensive for many Europeans to spend winter in their own countries.
Spending the winter in more affordable accommodation, in a warmer climate, is an option that makes sense for many, and Sanga believes the numbers visiting Khao San Road will continue to rise in the lead-up to the New Year holiday period.
It’s not just Bangkok facing a labour shortage, as Phuket has made no secret of the fact that it too is struggling. Tourism businesses on the island recently confirmed they have over 17,000 vacancies to fill.
Meanwhile, the number of tourists returning to the island is rising and is expected to continue doing so during the first quarter of 2023.
SOURCE: Nation Thailand