Ray Pine has a worrying vision. In the next five years, 20,000 new hotel rooms will open in Hong Kong, needing at least the same number of trained staff. Across the Pearl River, Macau is building 40,000 rooms. Where will all the skilled staff come from? Disneyland will begin welcoming visitors at the end of next year. 'That will suck away thousands of experienced workers from the rest of the Hong Kong tourism industry,' says the former head of the department of hotel and tourism management at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. 'There's going to be plenty of room at the inn,' Dr Pine quips. 'But there may not be anyone there to make your bread or cook your breakfast.' For more than a quarter of a century, the amiable Briton taught the future managers of the tourism and travel industries. He is adamant that universities do a good job. But they turn out managers, not housekeepers and waiters. And the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education campuses tend to produce supervisory staff. What hoteliers, restaurateurs and other tourism and travel operators are crying out for are the frontline soldiers - well-trained, qualified and motivated workers needed to cope with the coming tidal wave of visitors. Put another way, Dr Pine says, the World Tourism Organisation predicts China will be the world's largest attraction for global travellers by 2020, welcoming an expected 130 million visitors. In that year, forecasts say, Hong Kong will be the fifth most popular destination, drawing 57 million. That is where the International Service Alliance (ISA) comes into the picture. After he left the hotel and tourism management school, Dr Pine helped set up the alliance, a specialised training and education programme aimed at producing the core workers needed by the hospitality industry. ISA is offering training programmes in Asia for a dozen different hospitality industry occupations. The courses were developed over seven years at a cost of $380 million by the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council. 'You go around Hong Kong and you see a lot of two-star people [working] in five-star hotels,' he says. That's why the first month of the ISA programme is on the essentials: proper service attitudes, poise, confidence, problem solving, helping customers and other basics. The last two months are on-the-job training, working in a hotel or other tourism business. 'If we need this in Hong Kong, and we do, then China needs it 1,000 times as badly,' says Dr Pine. The tourism authorities in Zhuhai and Guangzhou are keen to see ISA start teaching there. Dr Pine would like to set up ISA's first school in Hong Kong, but given the prohibitive cost of property, that seems unlikely.