50,000 ‘likely to lose their jobs’

News

Almost 50,000 people employed in Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga are expected to lose their jobs in the wake of the tsunami, according to local businesspeople.

While many have seen their workplaces destroyed, employees at businesses still standing are being laid off after European and Scandinavian tour agencies made mass cancellations at resorts in Krabi through to the end of January, said Krabi Chamber of Commerce vice president Pronchai Tantrasakul. Adding to the potential hurt, other tours have yet to confirm their bookings for February, capping off a disastrous and heartbreaking high-tourist season, he said.

The tsunami damaged about 2,000 of Krabi’s 8,000 hotel rooms, and with tourists staying away, most of the remaining rooms sit empty.

If tourism fails to recover next month, Pronchai said the entire Krabi hotel and resort industry will lay off their 20,000-strong staff.

Some Krabi hotels and resorts have tried to keep their employees on the payroll by halving work hours and pay. Other operators continue to pay their employees a full salary.

But with occupancy at 10 per cent, compared to 80 per cent prior to the tsunami on December 26, many have given their staff 10 days vacation.

It is the same story in Phuket, where hotel occupancy has fallen to less than 10 per cent from 90 per cent before the calamity, according to Phuket Tourist Association director Jirachai Amornpairoj. If the tourists fail to show up in a month, the same fate awaits Phuket’s tourism industry workers.

“We expect to lay off up to 20,000 staff at all of the hotels and related businesses in Phuket,” he said.

The 50 Khao Lak hotels and resorts destroyed or damaged by the tsunami have suspended operations and told their 7,000 employees to return after they have rebuilt, said Pichai Nilthonkham, a representative of the Phang Nga hotel industry.

To assist the displaced workers, the Employment Department has found positions at businesses in the 14 other southern provinces, said Pairat Lumyong of the Employment Department. He added that the department had found 20,000 jobs for unemployed workers.

Published on Jan 11 , 2005

Somluck Srimalee

The Nation

PHUKET

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