Hospitality operators in the Gulf region are facing a staffing crisis as the market continues to burgeon. In Dubai's five-star market alone, an additional 18,000 rooms are set to come on to the market by 2008.
According to John Podaras, operations director at Tri Hospitality's Dubai office, taking an average staff-to-rooms ratio of 1.3, this means an additional 23,624 people will be required just to meet the demands of this sector.
He added: "There are also supposedly about 10,000 rooms coming on stream in Doha by 2009, 4,000 in Kuwait, and 3,500 for Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. You can see there's a real challenge emerging for HR people in the next few years."
The crisis could worsen further, as immigrant workers from India return to their own country's growing hotel sector, according to Jorg Heyer, executive vice-president of Executive Search International.
"There are real human resource challenges coming up," he said at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference in Dubai.
Staffing problems are expected to affect all levels of the hospitality industry. Podaras reckons that, with about 20,000 new employees required at service level in Dubai alone, the market will need an additional 3,000 managers and supervisors in the next two years.
But Heyer was more optimistic that the region would cope. "In the 1980s and 1990s," he said, "many staff left Dubai to work in Europe and the USA, as there was a shortage of management opportunities in the region. This has changed now, so these people may well come back."