Tour guides play a decisive role in the success of the tourism industry. However, Vietnam’s current workforce, even those trained in tourism schools, have not yet been able to meet the real work requirements. Experts have attempted to find a solution to Vietnam’s tourism human resources. Report by the Vietnam Business Forum.

Before becoming the CEO of the Viet Media Travel - a well-known travel agency in Saigon - Tran Van Long had worked as a tour guide for more than 10 years. Speaking from experiences, he confirmed that the success of a tour largely depended on the guide.

Particularly, the guide decides at least 50-60 percent of a tour’s success, because in case customers are unhappy, if the tour guide can be flexible and smooth they still can salvage the situation, of course unless the operator is the one at fault of the service, not following their commitment. In short, the role of tour guides is extremely important.

But Long himself admitted that right now, most Vietnamese guides still do not possess the required capability.

Reality has shown that current guides are lacking a comprehensive knowledge, they do not have practical knowledge as well as tourism skills necessary to the guiding job. When coming to a tourist attraction, they don’t know how to introduce and often speak out of topic. "If this situation continues, the visitors will be leaving Vietnam for good," he warned.

Nguyen Thi Hoa, HR Director of the Sofitel Plaza Hanoi, said that the human resources of Vietnam’s hotel industry today are also not from tourism schools but graduate from business, trade or foreign language schools. That’s the reason why the management positions of 4-5 star hotels are usually held by foreigners.

According to Dr Tran Thi Minh Hoa, Dean of Tourism Department of University of Social Sciences and Humanities, the reason is the difference between training and actual working due to the nature of Vietnam’s training, which usually focuses on theory rather than practical exercises.

There’s still a common misconception in Vietnam that undergraduate training is academic in nature. However, some majors like tourism str more of vocational, therefore it requires practical knowledge, language and professional skills as well as the ability to cope with all kinds of situations and incidents that could happen while working.

According to Vu An Dan, Associate Dean of Tourism Department of Hanoi Open University, to bridge the gap between training and working, a close collaboration between tourism schools and travel businesses is a must. The department is highly regarded for its quality, but it, as most of tourism businesses, is well aware that there still exists a wide gap between actual work and training that is in need of bridging, including lack of practice, in-depth cultural and social knowledge. It’s important for the time ahead to build a plan to improve students’ practical knowledge by working with Tourism Association and tourist companies to provide students necessary practical knowledge.

Experts believe that collaboration between schools and travel businesses to change the curriculum toward more practical exercise is a right move because it will help students gain more skills and experiences to be able to meet the requirements of actual work.

To solve the problem of scarce and inadequate human resources in tourism industry, Pham Tien Dung, Director of the Golden Tour & Convention, said that in the short term, training facilities should strengthen collaboration with businesses to improve the quality of tourism human resources from the early stages of training and practice to recruitment. There ashould also be a common standard which is modern, updated to international standards, to gradually resolve the current situation that each school follows a different curriculum. Only when graduates are able to meet all the requirements of actual job can the national tourism industry develop into the next level.-VNA