A labor problem is hampering the recovery of the hotel sector

PETALING JAYA: Although international borders are now open and many restrictions have been lifted, the Malaysian Hotel Association (MAH) said the sector has not fully returned to normal due to a labor shortage. ‘work.

Its president Christina Toh said the sun the future of the hospitality industry is still uncertain as many employees have refused to return to work, anticipating another lockdown to hit the country.

Toh said the industry has been hampered from effectively serving customers due to a limited workforce that is unable to meet the demands of rising hotel occupancy rates.

However, she said some hotel guests understand the circumstances and are patient, although they are entitled to quality and prompt service, as they also pay a resort fee on top of room rates.

“If you talk about the seriousness of the situation … well, the travel and hospitality industry was the first to be affected by the Covid-19 lockdowns.

“We were quite dependent on foreign contractors before the pandemic. But during the pandemic, most of them returned to their home countries.

“It’s bad when you take more bookings but you can’t handle the workload because the hotel’s current occupancy rate is good. When staff can’t provide efficient services, guests complain and say, ‘If you can’t cope, don’t open.’ But some understand our predicament,” she said.

“When hotels reopened, many staff, including room attendants and catering staff, were just afraid to go back to work, thinking there would be another lockdown and they would lose again. their jobs.”

She also said that the MAH has approached the government through the Ministries of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Human Resources to allow foreign contract workers to return by approving their visas, but the matter is still pending. suspense.

Nigel Wong, honorary treasurer and spokesman for the Malaysian Association of Touring and Agents (Matta), agreed that the transfer of many employees from the hospitality sector to other industries during the lockdown was a major factor in the shortage. labor.

He suggested authorities come up with possible solutions to boost people’s confidence to restore domestic tourism demand.

“There is no miracle solution to this problem. First, we need to quickly restore confidence in the tourism industry, something the government needs to give more funding and attention to.

“It will instantly help the economy and help bring talent back into tourism businesses,” he added.

“We hire a wide range of people with specific skills that often require years of on-the-job training to acquire.

“Like many other industries, these professionals have moved on to other jobs during the lockdown. Many are unwilling to return to tourism, given that the industry in Malaysia has not fully recovered.

“Second, we need to modernize our tourism industry and focus on developing more talent and professionals.”

Peter M. Doran