Low manpower supply but much to experience
At a recent Tourism Industry Conference in Singapore, the chief executive of the country’s tourism board, Lionel Yeo, said that factors driving tourism demand were “healthy”. Singapore is not a low-cost destination, he admitted, but visitors get real value from stays there.
The Singapore Tourism Board would be working even more closely with partners to strengthen this value, he said.
Among new initiatives: An attractions experience development program, details to come in the second quarter of 2014, aimed at making Singapore’s tourism attractions providers of experiences; a knowledge bank full of best practices on how hotels can make do with less manpower, to be available on the board’s corporate website soon; a study on improvement opportunities for hotel operations, to be completed by the third quarter of this year; and a hotel industry expert panel to chart a hotel manpower roadmap.
High prices and low manpower supply remain problems for Singapore’s tourism industry. Yeo described an “aspiration mismatch” between career-seekers and jobs in the tourism industry. Less than 30% of jobs in the industry are PMET jobs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians), yet more than 60% of job-seekers by 2020 would want PMET jobs, he said.
Michael Ma, an entrepreneur behind IndoChine House, said that coming up with exciting dining or entertainment ideas to enhance the tourism product was not an issue at all. The problem is manpower.
“It’s tough to expand the business. We have a new site at Tanjong Katong. We couldn’t do anything there. We didn’t have enough manpower. We own the building but I’ve never opened it. We don’t even have manpower now to cover [existing operations] so how could you expand?” he said.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time. I’ve a restaurant in Germany and the staff there go through three years of training – it’s a profession and the pay is high. Singaporeans really don’t want to do this job, really they don’t. You advertise and get 500 applicants. I would say 50 would be from Singaporeans. May be 25 would turn up for the interview and at least 60% want to be managers straightaway.”
[pictured: Rooftop pool, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore; courtesy Marina Bay Sands]