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Asia Minute: Attracting workers is tougher than drawing tourists in some parts of Asia

AP Photo/Vincent Thian

Heading into the summer, tourism has already come back strongly in Hawaiʻi — especially with domestic travelers. But in some parts of Asia the hospitality industry is facing major challenges — and not only having to do with tourists.

Restrictions for travelers in many parts of Asia have been lifted.

While that’s not the case for some major economies such as China and Japan, many tourist locations around the region are now fully open for business.

But there are still challenges — and a big one is workers.

Malaysia is one country that is struggling to fill jobs.

The Arab News quotes the president of the Malaysian Tourism Council as saying a labor shortage is complicating efforts for a rebound in business.

But now, Malaysia’s Tourism Minister has announced plans to hire 15,000 additional workers — mostly from other countries.

Thailand is facing similar challenges.

The Bangkok Post reports the president of the Thai Hotels Association told an industry conference on Thursday that her main concern right now is not a lack of visitors, but a lack of workers.

She says one reason is that many former employees of the hospitality industry are questioning the stability of tourism demand.

Late last year, the International Labor Organization found that in five Asian nations, nearly a third of total job losses during the pandemic were related to tourism.

Job recovery — and job security — have been uneven in their return.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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