Developing talent for Vietnam’s tourism and hospitality industry
Making Vietnam a repeat tourism destination is a challenge for tourism planners and government.. How does the country become more than just a ‘one-off stopping point between Thailand and China? Vietnam has a ange of great attractions including world heritage sites, beaches, first class resorts and hotels, food and culture. The answer may partly be in the quality of its tourism human resources.
How can Vietnam transform the quality of its tourism services to be on a par with other ASEAN countries like Thailand and Malaysia? It is much more than infrastructure, buildings and facilities, as important as these are. Tourists remember the human contact, the personal experiences more than anything, and these are the experiences they pass on to family, friends and others through their blogs, reviews and opinions of travel-related content in interactive travel forums.
One of the key components of the ESRT Programme is to contribute to the HR development of tourism professionals and new graduates joining the industry in Vietnam. This is being done in a number of ways. Setting professional standards for tourism through the Vietnam Tourism Occupational Standards (VTOS) is the backbone of this initiative by developing a range of standards that define what and how tourism and hospitality services should be delivered.
Standards range from entry level trainees to middle management, to staff working in hotels of all sizes and those working in travel and tour operations. The goal is to set standards of competence and to provide resources training materials and programmes to deliver those standards through local participation and engagement. Competence – the blend of knowledge, skills and attitude, is key to tourism staff understanding and applying what is required to an international standard and being able to deliver this consistently and professionally.
The ESRT is specifically targeting disadvantaged areas, minority groups as well as aiming at entry level employees – where there is always high demand for tourism staff. ESRT is analysing, refining, updating and modularizing the original VTOS and making it accessible in a variety of flexible formats and delivery mechanisms.
The new VTOS will cluster and package the standards to meet specific needs of sectors such as small hotel operators, small tour and travel companies as well as vocational colleges teaching travel, tourism and hospitality courses.
An innovative initiative is, for example, in close cooperation with the Quang Ninh Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Quang Ninh Tourism Association, to develop standards and training for pleasure boat service crew. Vietnam has over 7,000 boat crew working in hospitality and tourism positions on pleasure boats in the Mekong Delta, Central coast area and Halong Bay. This will be the first time that standards and training have been developed for these key tourism workers, and it is hoped it will raise the quality of service by equipping service staff with key hospitality skills such as housekeeping, front office and food service as well as basic English skills.
The need for operating standards and competence-based curriculum for the tourism industry is not disputed. The challenge now is to ensure the high-quality programmes under development, reach, and are embedded, into the provinces and businesses throughout Vietnam over the coming three years of the ESRT programme.