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Resurging travel bookings bring labor shortage

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THE hospitality industry is facing a challenge in acquiring talent amid the recovery of the travel industry as the reopening of the borders increased the need for manpower.

“With the reopening of borders at the start of 2022, Southeast Asia’s travel industry has seen rapid recovery and the increasing need for manpower,” Hilton Hotels Corp. Area Vice-President and Regional Head for Southeast Asia Alexandra Murray told BusinessWorld.

According to Ms. Murray, the wider hospitality industry, which was severely affected by the pandemic, finds it hard to rebuild its workforce.

“The current labor shortage has also led to fierce competition for hospitality talent in the region, including the Philippines where the tourism industry is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2024,” Ms. Murray added.

To address this, Hilton invested in employer brand-building and recruitment strategies as it saw the real and urgent need to recruit talent across all of its markets.

“One of our key priorities, in addition to retaining our best talent, is to also attract new talent who has never worked in a hospitality role and acquaint them with the industry by providing best-in-class onboarding and upskilling programs,” Ms. Murray said.

“This strategy is key in addressing the talent crunch and ensuring we continue to deliver the unparalleled hospitality and unique experiences that Hilton is renowned for,” she added.

Ms. Murray said that one factor that makes hospitality careers “less attractive” is its challenging environment.

She added that there is a need to “rebuild jobseekers’ confidence in hospitality as an industry of choice and to shift mindsets that a hospitality career is more than just a job.”

Partnerships with government agencies are also seen to help in promoting the sector and provide more opportunities.

“With tourism and hospitality a strong driver for the region’s local economies, revitalizing the industry is also a key priority for many governments across the region, including the Philippines,” Ms. Murray said.

“Hospitality companies can partner with government agencies to promote the sector as an industry of choice with plenty of opportunities for hospitality talent to meet growing demands,” she added.

According to Ms. Murray, the job fairs and skills training by different government agencies help in growing the workforce amid the sector’s recovery.

Hilton saw Southeast Asia as its second-largest market in the Asia-Pacific region and it said that it remains confident in the tremendous long-term growth opportunities across the market.

“Southeast Asia is leading tourism recovery in Asia-Pacific and we are optimistic that the region will continue to stay at the forefront in 2023,” said Ms. Murray. — Justine Irish D. Tabile

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