Phu Quoc, the island district in the southern province of Kien Giang, urgently needs more than 6,000 qualified workers for its hospitality sector, said local authorities.

They explain the urgency by pointing to many hi-end resorts and four- or five-star hotels, with more than 2,000 rooms, coming online by late 2014 and early 2015.

Huynh Quang Hung, Vice Chairman of the district People's Committee, said that the number of tourists to the island is expected to surge following the enactment of a 30-day visa exemption for foreign passport holders.

He said that the policy, which took effect on March 10, has possibly contributed to the increase of 15-17 percent in the number of foreign visitors to Phu Quoc in the year's first quarter.

In addition, a Russian tourism firm is offering direct flights from Russia to Phu Quoc. The flight operates once every 10-12 days. The district is also planning to launch more international air routes.

Recruiting and providing on-the-job training to locals is one of the measures being taken by enterprises to address the labour shortage, Hung said.

However, he added, meeting the demand for workers in the tourism sector was more challenging because hi-end resorts and hotels require very professional workers fluent in English.

Hung said the district has offered to organise free training courses to residents, but most were not interested in taking part. Therefore, the district will also recruit migrant workers from other provinces.

The official added that the district administration has called for more investment and engagement from employers in the training of workers.

Phu Quoc will work to better tap its potential in maritime and eco-tourism, and one of the measures it will take is to reduce service fees in this area, he said.

He explained that the 50-60 percent drop in electricity prices (previously power prices on the island were higher than on the mainland) also creates favourable conditions for the district to cut down its service charges.

According to statistics compiled by the district, 174 tourism projects are now underway in Phu Quoc. It counts 125 hotels and other forms of accommodation and 75 vessels offering sightseeing tours.

Phu Quoc has targeted increasing the number of visitors to the island from 416,000 to 500,000 this year, but the actual figure could go up to 600,000, Hung said.-VNA