As tourists return, Johor hotels get a fresh lease on life

Johor Published 1 year ago on 16 August 2022 | Author TIN Media

The surge in domestic tourists after restrictions on interstate travel were eased on the back of a successful vaccination campaign has given a new lease of life to the hotel industry in Johor.

Most hotels here have seen an increase in the number of bookings for meeting rooms and halls, allowing operators and industry players space to formulate their strategies to get back on track.

The hoteliers also say it has been much easier now for them to get workers and hence, they no longer face a labour shortage.

Initially, it was an uphill battle for them to get staff, but now things seem much easier and new applications are pouring in.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Johor chapter chairman Ivan Teo said on weekends, the hotels in the state could see an influx of tourists, with check-ins from Singaporeans being consistent at around 70 to 90 per cent, especially for those in the four- and five-star range.

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He said hotels were better prepared now compared to April, when the country's borders were first opened.

Most hotels were looking to employ part-timers and seniors, besides multi-tasking their existing workers to cope with operations, he said.

"With the current raise in salaries, many hoteliers are multi-tasking their workers and also turning to technology to assist staff members," he said.

Teo said, with the city now packed with Singaporeans, vehicles from other states coming in as well as long queues forming at restaurants, these were positive signs for tourism in the state.

"We expect a significant pent-up demand in the hospitality sector. With the vaccination rate in Malaysia moving on track and the relaxation of lockdown measures, the hotel industry's recovery trajectory will be a positive one, at least domestically for now," he said.

Resort hotels, such as those in coastal locations, had seen a significant increase in room bookings during weekends.

Sand and Sandals Desaru Beach Resort & Spa general manager Lim Lily Lian said reservation for rooms had grown tremendously.

"We have enough staff on our end and can go on full swing at all our outlets," she said.

Lim added that weekends were the busiest days for them, with visitors thronging their water sport activities.

"The resort is happy to function at nearly full force with enough workers to handle all departments and the seven outlets," she said.

Earlier, Lim admitted that it was a little tough, as they were short of staff and could not open all their outlets.

"I can now sigh in relief as things are moving on well and with a little coaching and training we can train the new staff," she added.

Lim also said the resort had to ensure that there were ample workers to man its outdoor activities, such as the ATV ride, mangrove tour, firefly tour, hiking and crazy golf.

Lotus Desaru Beach Resort & Spa chief executive officer Indra Gandhi Rengasamy Pillai said Malaysians were seizing the opportunity to take a break and spend time with their families and friends after the long separation because of the movement control order (MCO).

"With the school holidays in about three weeks' time, our business appears to be booming and room bookings can reach nearly 80 per cent capacity every weekend," she said.

After a long recovery, the resort had seen more local tourists thronging it with many booking its outdoor and sea activities.

"Our resort is operating with full capacity and with maximum staff, especially during weekends," she said.

Indra said things looked good now and she had no worries in looking for employees.

"We are glad to have the best team of workers handling all sections and departments," she said.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Johor Baru general manager Melanie Rahayu said her workers were dedicated and willing to work long hours as visitors increased in numbers.

"Most of them have shown commitment to learning and delivering their utmost," she said.

With a little training, she said, these new workers could pick up things fast and also go the extra mile to help other departments.

"What's interesting is that getting workers is now easy as many want to work in the hospitality industry," she said.

According to Melanie, initially many left to work in Singapore but returned after it became a hassle to travel daily across the Causeway.

She said it was a great respite, as staffing was no longer an issue and the hotel was going on full swing.