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21 October 2014
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Risk looms for local tourism workers

Many locals working in the tourism industry are likely to lose their jobs to foreigners when the Asean Economic Community sweeps into the country next year.

“The less skilled or those poor in foreign languages will come under much more pressure from work and may leave their jobs,” Pornthip Hirunkate, vice president for marketing at the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), warned yesterday.

Many foreigners have already moved into marketing and sales positions at hotels, shops, restaurants and other service businesses, replacing locals due to their much greater competencies, she said. “I’m confident that a lot more workers will come and steal jobs from Thais,” she said.

According to the AEC’s agreement on tourism and services called the Mutual Recognition Agreement for Tourism Professional (MRA-TP), people with 32 job titles related to tourism such as hotel housekeepers, front office clerks, maids, travel agents, entertainers, and food and beverage staff can work in any country in the region if they are MRA-TP certified.

Research on human resources development by the Thailand Development Research Institute showed that Thailand suffered the severest shortage of skilled labour, while Malaysia needed to import some jobs and other countries like Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam were struggling with a surplus of labour. The council urged Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul to work with educational institutions and the Labour Ministry to upgrade locals’ competencies in order to shelter them from competition. The TDRI study found that 25 million people worked in the tourism and travel industry in the 10 nations in the region. In Thailand, about 4.8 million people are working in tourism and related businesses. However, a lot of Thais are poor in foreign languages especially English compared to their counterparts in Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar and Vietnam.

While the country is facing a tough situation and a big drop in arrivals, the Tourism Authority of Thailand yesterday launched a campaign called “Dream Destinations 2” with the goal to boost domestic travel throughout next year.

The new gimmick consists of 22 selective attractions that are set to be promoted at different best-visit times from January to December. The authority expects local people to go on 148 million trips next year, up 9.5 per cent from the projection for this year. Their spending is also predicted to flame up 14 per cent to Bt800 billion from this year.



First published: The Nation, October 21, 2014