|A tour guide introduces the Con Dao prison, where Vietnamese revolutionary activists were once held, to visitors. More qualified professionals are needed to make Viet Nam a more attractive destination, said ambassador Franz Jessen, head of the EU delegation to Viet Nam. — VNA/VNS Photo Ngoc Ha
HA NOI (VNS) — Revisions to Viet Nam's tourism sector may lead to a major facelift for what has become one of the country's most important industries.
The changes needed to bring Viet Nam tourism standards in line with those adopted by ASEAN was the main topic at a conference held in the capital city on Wednesday by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the European Union.
"Human resources and service quality are vital to the country's tourism industry, to its capacity to compete in a global environment," said Nguyen Van Tuan, head of the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism.
The revision of standards will play an important role in the country's effort to improve the tourism industry, Tuan said.
At the conference, delegates from the European Chamber of Commerce and its Tourism and Hospitality group discussed the benefits of comparing the country's standards against those in the 10 ASEAN nations. This could serve as an assessment and roadmap to future development.
An agreement among ASEAN nations allows competence-based qualifications and certificates obtained in one member country to be recognised in the others. The policy aims to improve the quality of services delivered by tourism professionals across the region.
"The tourism sector needs more qualified professionals to make Viet Nam a more attractive destination," said Franz Jessen, Ambassador, head of the EU delegation to Viet Nam.
The EU is supporting the country through a programme called Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism Capacity Development, which trains students in Vietnamese colleges and tourism schools.
Delegates from hospitality establishments said they were finding it difficult to recruit qualified job candidates, mainly because new graduates often possessed low English proficiency and lacked practical skills.
The delegates suggested that colleges and tourism schools focus on integrating real life work experience into curricula. Others requested financial support from the Government to reduce the cost of training.
Delegates from vocational-training centres called for greater co-operation among ministries in building a national qualification framework to raise Vietnamese assessors and trainers' skills to ASEAN levels. The framework would also provide needed training materials and guidelines to assist local trainers.
Tran Phu Cuong, head of the Viet Nam Tourism Certification Board, said the board planned to establish a national database for tourism professionals working abroad.
The board will be responsible for evaluating and issuing certificates to Vietnamese tourism professionals based on the ASEAN Common Competency Standards for Tourism Professionals. The board will also issue warnings about unqualified individuals to concerned authorities and businesses. — VNS