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Unconfirmed tour bookings leave Phuket's high season holed

Phuket Resort Tells Staff: Take High Season Leave

Wednesday, November 19, 2008
ONE of Phuket's largest and most successful resorts has asked its staff to take accrued leave, a move likely to be repeated at many resorts.

Concern about booking levels at the Hilton Arcadia Phuket Resort and Spa for January and February has led management to issue a memo suggesting that staff take time off before the end of the financial year.

The suggestion applies to owed public holidays and extra days worked.

November is usually the first of a run of revenue-generating high-season months, and the move by the Hilton is an indication of the general levels of resort bookings on the island.

Without the cash cushion of a prosperous high season, the long low expected in 2009 may be even worse than anticipated.

Hundreds of jobs are almost certain to be lost, and a recovery for next high season is extremely unlikely.

The Hilton, on the beachfront in Karon, is one of Thailand's largest resorts. It has 685 rooms and a staff of 870.

Rattana Pumpratin, a representative of the Human Resources Department of the Hilton, told Phuketwan today that the occupancy rate at present was 50 percent to 60 percent.

''We still want to keep all our staff, but we have the opportunity to let some of them enjoy free time during the high season for a change,'' she said.

''Marketing is working hard at generating more guests,'' she added. ''But we have had some indications that tour operators are not confirming all bookings.''

If the Hilton is finding that bookings are being cancelled or not confirmed, then other resorts and hotels will mostly be experiencing the same degree of setback, or worse.

Khun Rattana said that very few independent travellers were making bookings. The global financial recession is biting everywhere now: Europe, Australia, Japan.

Some resorts, Phuketwan understands, have continued low season rates and packages through November and into December in an effort to attract business.

The Hilton recently hosted a large group of Amway employees and their families from India and was host just weeks ago to an international conference on dengue fever.

In dealing with a busy period, staff built up time owing that management is now urging them to take. Forward bookings are down on last high season.

The Arcadia opened more than 21 years ago and has been part of the Hilton group for five years.

The ramifications for the Phuket economy of the Hilton's move are significant. If the Hilton is suffering, other resorts must already be in pain.

Staff at some resorts would have been expecting to receive sizeable high season income, supplemented by service-charges. Many can now expect to be offered leave without pay.

And resorts who poached staff on the basis of guaranteed service-charge supplements will now have to meet their obligations . . . or sack highly-paid staff.

Phuket's Future Forecast: Darkness At Noon
Phuket has a reputation as a great holiday destination but an island economic guru is forecasting a high season downturn of up to 30 percent, plus years of pain. Resorts are ducking for cover.
Phuket's Future Forecast: Darkness At Noon

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Saturday April 20, 2019
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