Hotels, restaurants cut staff levels

Hotels and restaurants have started to cut back on part-time staff as the ongoing political protest hits hotel occupancy rates and revenues.

Ronnachit Mahattanapreut, the senior vice-president for finance and administration at Central Plaza Hotel Plc (Centel), said Centara hotels in Bangkok had already stopped hiring part-time staff. Normally the hiring of temporary staff would increase by 10% during the high-season from November to February of each year.

The political turmoil had clearly resulted in fewer room reservations and organised events than usual in Bangkok,  so around 20% of its 9,300 employees who work on a part-time basis had been cut, according to media reports.

For permanent employees, Centel has plans to relocate them to hotels in other tourist destinations such as Hua Hin, Pattaya and Phuket, where the occupancy rate is still high as 80-90%.

Sanga Ruangwattanakul, president of Khao San Road Business Association, said since the political uprising and until the issuing of the emergency decree, operators in the area had tried to reduce costs, stopped  hiring part-time staff and transfer staff to other branches which were not affected.

There are about 10,000 employees working full-time and part-time in Khao San road area, a well-known destination for backpacker tourists, 

Some workers who still want to work in the Khao San area would be told to take vacations. If the situation prolongs until the end of February, staff may be asked to take a long holiday without pay.

He said 70% of visitors to Khao San Road are Thais and the rest are foreigners from countries such as Japan, China and Russia, who normally spent at least one night in the area.

Thaniwan Kulmongkol, president of the Thai Restaurants Association, said the issuing of the emergency decree caused a drop of 300 million baht in revenue for overall restaurant and food shop businesses. Generally, operators will depend on cashflow, while their normal liquidity will enable them to survive for three months.

She said the first employees to be suspended will be waiters and waitresses if the situation continues. The association has around 30,000 members, and one-third of them are in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. The impact on their business depends on the location, so each operator has to adjust accordingly.

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