Vietnam’s tourism sector has been growing rapidly in recent years. Photo by Shutterstock/Phuong D. Nguyen
Bui Ta Hoang Vu, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Department, said that each tourism employee in Vietnam contributes $3,477 a year to the country’s tourism revenue.
This is 15 times lower than that of Singapore ($47,713) and 2.5 times lower than Thailand's ($8,369), Vu said at a recent forum, citing data from the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).
Vietnam ranked 67th in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2017 compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF), lower than Indonesia (42nd), Thailand (34th) and Singapore (13th).
The country needs 40,000 skilled tourism employees a year, but only 15,000 are hired; and among these only 12 percent are highly-skilled employees, Vu said.
Nguyen Quoc Ky, chairman of tourism company Vietravel, said that the number of employees fluent in foreign languages was very low.
"Places like Nha Trang and Da Nang receive a large number of tourists from South Korea, Japan and China, but tourism companies still have to provide 6-12 months of language training for recruits before they are able to communicate."
Vu said that the reason for low labor productivity was a lack of training for professional tourism employees in Vietnam. In Ho Chi Minh City alone, at least 10 percent of tourism employees are working without any training, he added.
Ky and other industry insiders proposed that the government start early vocational training for high school students and provide more practical training for university students majoring in tourism.
Vietnam’s tourism sector has been growing rapidly in recent years. Last year, the country welcomed 15.5 million international visitors and 80 million domestic visitors, up 19.9 percent and 9.3 percent respectively, according to official figures. Revenue from tourism grew by 21.4 to $23 billion, contributing 7.5 percent of GDP.