ASEAN Tourism Research Association (ATRA), together with Taylor's University, Malaysia and Centre for Research and Innovation in Tourism (CRiT), recently co-organized the 13th ATRA Tourism Forum entitled “The New Dynamics of Tourism and Hospitality Workforce in ASEAN”. The Opening Remark and Keynote was delivered by Prof. Dr. Neethiahnanthan Ari Ragavan, President of ATRA and Executive Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences and Leisure Management, Taylor's University. Meanwhile, the session was moderated by Dr. Puvaneswaran Kunasekaran, Honorary Treasurer of ATRA and Senior Lecturer from Universiti Putra Malaysia. Key representatives from the Hospitality and Tourism sector in ASEAN were invited to share their views. Esteemed panel members comprised of Mr. Shamsul Amree, Chief Executive Officer of Domino’s Malaysia; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Joaquim Dias Soeiro, Head of School, School of Hospitality, Tourism and Events, Taylor’s University; Ms. Xialeemar "Xiameer" Valdeavilla, ATRA Board of Director and Chief Executive Officer of XMS Consultancy, Phillipines and Mr. Ian Barrow, General Manager, DoubleTree by Hilton Putrajaya Lakeside to share their valuable insights during the forum. About 250 participants attended the forum in-person and virtually. Generally, the speakers were optimistic that the industry will continue growing in 2023, with a focus on sustainable tourism, digital technology, diversification of tourism offerings and infrastructure development. With these developments, ASEAN countries are well-positioned to attract more tourists and continue contributing to the growth of the global tourism industry. Resilience of the industry was highlighted as the main aspect that the stakeholders should be focused.
Many service industry jobs shifted to remote work during the pandemic, particularly those involved administrative, customer service and office-based roles. Even after the immediate crisis, some companies adopted hybrid work models, allowing employees to work from home part-time. This change may have increased workforce flexibility and opened up new job opportunities for individuals outside traditional office locations. The speakers also urged the current tourism students to be well-equipped with knowledge and technology relevant to cater the post-pandemic market.
Following the presentation, the audience engaged in an interactive Q&A session, whereby the speakers addressed various inquiries and concerns. Participants expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to learn from such esteemed experts. The event concluded with a networking session, our sincerest appreciation to the invited speakers for sharing their expertise and bringing tremendous insight throughout the forum.