Vietnam’s tourism boom hindered by lack of workers, guides

By VnExpress   December 10, 2016 | 03:00 am PT
Vietnam’s tourism boom hindered by lack of workers, guides
A Chinese man, in white, works as a tour guide for a group of Chinese visitors in Nha Trang. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Ngoc
'Training schools have not been able to meet the demand.' 

Low quality of hospitality training in Vietnam is pulling back the strong growth of the country's tourism sector, and the problem of labor shortages can get worse in the coming years, industry insiders have warned.

Figures released at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday showed that the country has 346 hospitality training facilities for the sector, but somehow the number of skilled workers remains low.

Vu The Binh, vice chairman of Vietnam Tourism Association, said tourist arrivals have been increasing steadily in recent years, which requires the workforce, particularly the group of well-trained professionals, to grow by around 20 percent a year.

According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, Vietnam had 2.25 million people working in the tourism sector by the end of 2015, including 750,000 directly serving tourists.

“Training schools have not been able to meet the demand. There is a very high risk of a severe labor shortage,” Binh said, as cited by the Saigon Times.

Representatives of tourism companies at the conference said graduates often lack important skills, especially language competency.

A lack of foreign-language speaking guides has prompted many travel firms to break a ban and hire foreign guides.

In 2014, there were media reports that many groups of Russian tourists to the central resort town Nha Trang were led by Russian guides.

The country this year deported 64 Chinese working as illegal tour guides in Nha Trang.

Authorities in Da Nang in June also found some 60 Chinese tour guides working illegally and providing false information about Vietnam to tourists.

Foreign visitors to Vietnam topped nine million in the first 11 months, up 25.4 percent from a year ago and already surpassing the full-year 8.5 million target for 2016.

The country expects the total number of foreign tourists for 2016 to go up by more than 22 percent from last year, to a record high of 9.7 million.

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