Improving the skills of tour guides is the first and foremost step in developing Vietnam’s tourism industry sustainably, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Tuan Anh has said.

By June 2014, there were over 14,000 licensed international tour guides nationwide, a dramatic increase from 5,000 in 2005. However, those speaking less popular languages are few in number.

Tourism students have been made aware of this situation, the Minister said, noting that career orientation courses will be offered, as well as a set of professional standards, to make changes.

He affirmed the ministry’s work together with the Ministry of Education and Training in these activities.

According to him, the ministry has issued a short-term curricula and a set of foreign language qualification rules. Those unable to take training courses can sit for vocational examinations to be licensed.

Beyond that, a draft law on tourism also comprises flexible terms, making it easier for the experienced and enthusiasts to join the workforce.

About marketing activities, Anh said the sector will continue promotion fairs at home and abroad during the rest of this year, popularising Vietnam as a destination of safety and hospitality.

Tour operators should actively join such fairs to market themselves to a wider consumer base, he suggested.

In the meantime, he called for more tours to new attractions abroad, especially in Europe while facilitating inbound tourism demand, adding that this should be done by joint efforts among local authorities, travel firms, and even all walks of life.

The Departments of Culture, Sports and Tourism were urged to assist travel companies in introducing Vietnam as one of the 20 attractive destinations in the world.

In January – July, the tourism sector catered for nearly 22 million tourists, with nearly 4.9 million foreigners, generating 142 trillion VND (6.7 billion USD) in revenue, up 21.2 percent year-on-year.-VNA