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Dinh Vu


Last updated: Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Tour Guide Quality Management Tightened

Posted: Monday, September 18, 2017

In recent years, Vietnam's tourism has developed strongly and is aiming to become a key economic sector of the country. Blessed with natural, cultural and historical potential, the tourism industry has sufficient conditions to develop on par with or even at a higher position than many countries in the region. However, human resource factors are becoming a painful issue, especially the poor quality tour guides.

Alarming situation
According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the country had about 17,400 tour guides as of 2016, including about 9,900 international guides. However, they could only meet 15 per cent and 40 per cent of actual demand, respectively. Besides, the structure of international tour guides is not balanced. The country had 5,500 English-speaking guides, 1,500 Chinese-speaking guides, 1,100 French-speaking guides, 500 Russian-speaking guides and 500 Japanese-speaking guides.

Dr Pham Hong Long, Lecturer of Tourism Faculty under the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, the Vietnam National University of Hanoi, said, “Hospitality workers in general and tour guides in particular are great in number but poor in quality, particularly in command of foreign languages. This is a hard nut to crack for the Vietnamese tourism sector in the integration process.”

Each year, there are about 50,000 tourism graduates nationwide, of which 60 per cent hold university degrees. Nevertheless, only 5 per cent of university graduates and 30 per cent of college graduates are working with their majors at schools. Remarkably, most of them have to be trained again to work because they lack practical experience.

Mr Nguyen Van Khanh from the Saigon Culture, Arts and Tourism College said, “Tourism workers in general and tour guides in particular lack professional skills and foreign language skills. Most tourism workers only undergo short-term training courses or move from other careers; thus, their skills are generally low.”

On the other hand, during peak seasons, many uncertified tour guides engage in tourism services. Notably, many foreigners who have lived in Vietnam for a long time and have good knowledge of services stand out to organise tours, causing false or misleading information, low-quality service and high expenses. This seriously stains the image of Vietnam's tourism in the eyes of international visitors.

Quality improvement in line with tight management
To improve the quality of tour guides, Dr Tran Van Long, a lecturer at Hanoi Tourism College, said, “It is necessary to strengthen the training cooperation between schools and businesses, regularly update, supplement and refine new training programmes to match actual demands on the market, and train needed soft skills for students.”

In addition, training should focus on improving foreign language skills for students, and encourage tour guides to learn foreign languages, especially less common foreign languages.

At the same time, local tourism authorities should closely coordinate with relevant agencies to strengthen inspection, detection and settlement of foreigners working illegally in their areas.

Deputy Standing Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association (VITA) Vu The Binh said, "It necessary to revoke the operation licences of Vietnamese tourism companies who help Chinese travel companies and tour guides to work illegally. Any Vietnamese tour guide allowing Chinese guides to work his/her behalf will be fined and have his practice licence revoked."

In addition, authorities should actively review and tighten the issuance of guide certificates to create a fair and enabling environment for good guides.

Moreover, Mr Pham Tien Dung, General Secretary of the Hanoi Unesco Club and Director of Goldentour Company, added that it is necessary to improve State management and inspection by working with travel associations and clubs and tour guides to disseminate current legal provisions on travel business and tourist guide, to raise awareness of tour operators, coordinate with media and press agencies, focus on communications to create strong ripple effects to improve guide quality.

Over the past years, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has issued many policies and plans to improve tourist guide quality, e.g. campaigns to improve the quality of professional travel services and tour guides.

Actually, there is a need for effective coordination of all stakeholders, from authorities to schools and travel companies to improve the quality of tour guides.

Giang Tu

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