Low labor productivity plagues Vietnam tourism industry

By Bich Ngoc   December 6, 2018 | 03:38 pm GMT+7
Low labor productivity plagues Vietnam tourism industry
Aerial view of Ho Chi Minh City in sunrise. Photo by Shutterstock/Sam's Studio

Vietnamese workers in the tourism industry generate less than $3,500 per capita annually, much lower than in neighboring countries, an expert says. 

Despite the recent robust growth in tourism, productivity remains very low, Nguyen Xuan Thanh, development director of Fulbright University Vietnam, said at the 2018 Vietnam Travel and Tourism Summit Wednesday.

In 2000 Vietnam revenues from tourism were $1.23 billion, and they had rocketed to $22.7 billion last year. However, it was only VND77 million ($3,297) per worker in the industry, equal to 40 percent and 45 percent of Thailand and Malaysia’s respectively. 

Thanh blamed it on the lack of skills and skewed training.

The current tourism scenario demands workers with a variety of skills including general knowledge, foreign languages, soft skills, professionalism, and management skills but the training mainly focuses on specific professional skills and ignores the practical requirements, he said. 

Pham Hong Dung, deputy general director of Vietnamese private firm Muong Thanh Group, which owns more than 50 hotels and hotel projects across the country, said many workers in the industry are fresh graduates.

So training them is a long process at Muong Thanh, taking two years for a department head and five to seven years for a hotel manager, he said.

Nguyen Xuan Thanh, Development director of Fulbright Vietnam University. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh 

Nguyen Xuan Thanh, development director of Fulbright Vietnam University. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh 

Thanh said pre-employment training should be based on Vietnamese tourism industry standards so that they gain practical work experience under the guidance of industry experts. He also emphasized the need for an open digital platform for training. 

"The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism should collaborate with leading technology firms and schools to set up an open platform as a digital human resource development center." 

Vietnam is in the midst of a tourism boom, with over 14.12 million foreign visitors coming in the first 11 months of 2018, a rise of 21.3 percent year-on-year. The country targets 15-17 million arrivals this year.

Last year, the country received 12.9 million foreign visitors, according to the General Statistics Office.

Statistics from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism's training department show that Vietnam has 192 institutions offering tourism-related training. 

On average, they churn out 20,000 workers for the industry every year. 

 
 
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