Sustainable tourism can play a positive role in socio-economic and environmental development. In the post-pandemic era, is Vietnam ready for the future and emerging as one of the best destinations in the world?
Factors that hinder development of sustainable tourism
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), sustainable tourism is the development of tourism activities to meet the current needs of tourists and indigenous people while paying attention to the conservation and improvement of resources for the development of tourism activities in the future.
However, globally, tourism has been among the hardest hit sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, RMIT University Vietnam convened the Tourism and Hospitality Roundtable 2022 to make the sector more resilient and ensure it is on track towards the 2030 global agenda for sustainable development.
Regarding the shortcomings, Mr Jason Choi, Country Manager Vietnam and Cambodia of Cathay Pacific Airways said that Vietnam’s airports were jammed by crowds with many aircraft and routes suffering delays despite airlines trying to mitigate the situation.
“The aviation industry in Vietnam has huge room for growth, but more infrastructure investment is needed for airlines to expand at a rate that could meet the booming demand. Moreover, Vietnam is a country of many heritages and tourist attractions, however, most of them are not widely promoted outside of Vietnam. I hope the government would invest more to reach their full potential,” said Mr Choi.
Ms Nguyen Thi My Trang, Director of Service Quality Control, Head of Customer Experience, Bamboo Airways shared that Vietnam’s tourism and hospitality industry is facing high-quality labour shortage.
“There are not even enough employees at the airports for check-in service. Airline labour problems also occur with pilots, flight attendants, ground services as baggage services, and many others. After social distancing, many airline staff who had bad impacts on career have shifted to other industries. We can’t get experienced employees back to work right away, it takes time to train new employees to replace. Severe shortage of human resource affects the quality of airline service in some ways and some more time”, said Ms Trang.
In addition, experts attending the roundtable also agreed that visa restrictions are also a factor hindering the growth of tourism. Currently, tourists only have 15 days to stay in Vietnam on their visa while it can take substantial time and effort to travel here for a range of global travellers.
RMIT’s efforts in training high-quality human resources
The tourism industry in Vietnam requires sustainability because it has a great impact on the economy, politics, and policies. In 2019, Vietnam was one of the ten countries with the fastest tourism growth in the world, accounting for nearly 10% of GDP. According to the national tourism development strategy, the direct contribution will increase to 12-14% by 2025 and reach 15-17% by 2030.
2022 is also a milestone marking the 5-year establishment of the Tourism and Hospitality Management program at RMIT Vietnam, the organiser of the Tourism and Hospitality roundtable this year.
Dr Nuno F. Ribeiro, Senior Lecturer and Research Cluster Lead, RMIT University Vietnam affirmed: “One of our and our students’ key life purposes is to contribute the sustainable development of tourism in Vietnam. We must focus not only on growth in terms of number of tourists and revenue, but sustainable growth – we want to tourism to have a positive impact in the country of Vietnam, and our students are being educated to contribute to that goal.”
To be more specific, “our work-integrated learning approach with strong industry links would enable students to be ready to join the labour market right after graduation. We do this in a multi-faceted manner through bringing senior business leaders into our classrooms, by taking our students to visit and engage with enterprises at their places of operation and with intense embedded internships where our students are immersed in mentored on-the-job learning. This approach equips students with practical knowledge, contributing to improving the quality of human resources in the tourism industry in Vietnam”, said Dr Jackie Ong, Senior Program Manager, Tourism & Hospitality Management, RMIT University Vietnam.
The Tourism and Hospitality Management program at RMIT equips students with theoretical knowledge and practical application, as well as a solid foundation in business management, finance, marketing, soft skills and English proficiency at the highest level. With international standards and Vietnamese culture immersion, it paves the way for students to pursue managerial roles in local and international organisations.
By Dung Pham