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Poor wages force agents to quit

Travel agency staffing levels are on the verge of crisis point as poor salaries are forcing employees to quit in search of better-paid work, industry professionals have revealed.

Travel agency staffing levels are on the verge of crisis point as poor salaries are forcing employees to quit in search of better-paid work, industry professionals have revealed.
The problem is particularly acute in Dubai where the cost of living is high and many travel consultants are living on the breadline.
“People come to Dubai or Saudi Arabia and find that they can’t afford to pay for their accommodation on the low wages they receive, so they go home,” said Bibbs D’Souza, product manager, Alamo Middle East. “Every single travel agency is looking for staff at the moment.”
The price of accommodation in Dubai has increased by 20 to 30% over the past 12 months, according to a report published in UK business newspaper, The Financial Times.
In the same period, the price of food rocketed 20%, healthcare by 18%, and transport and education costs by 25% each.
“Prices are going up every year; but as they do, wages are not going up with them. I don’t know how travel agents are coping,” said Labib Jaroudi, manager. Dubai Travel & Tour Agents Group (DTTAG).
Starting wages for new travel agents working in the UAE range between AED 4000 and AED 4500 (US $1000 and $1200) per month said Fabian Fernandes, branch manager at Sharaftravel in Bur Dubai.
“We are not losing many people because our salaries are better than those offered at many other travel companies,” he said.
Because wages are generally poor, the experience and knowledge of frontline staff is often sub-standard, which causes problems for some of the top agencies where pay and standards are higher.
“We’ve let a couple of members of staff go because they’re not up to the job, but we haven’t had any leave of their own accord,” said Richard Evans, general manager of Dubai agency, Prime Travel, which recently opened a branch in Arabian Ranches.
“The standard of the applicants isn’t very high. Of the 100 CVs we received when we started up, about two were suitable, so now we go oversees to look for staff.”

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