At recent panel discussions, tourism and hospitality experts stressed the importance of sustainability and education for the long term development of Vietnam’s tourism industry.
The two events – organised by RMIT Vietnam and industry partners in Hanoi on 7 June and HCMC on 25 May – were entitled A Bright Future for Vietnam's Tourism Industry: Opportunities for Growth and Lessons from Competing Nations in the Mekong Region, and aimed to make Vietnam’s tourism industry more competitive in the region.
For Ole Dross, Marketing Manager for Hanoi-based Asiatica Travel, long term sustainable development is the main challenge for Vietnam’s tourism industry.
“Currently, the tourism industry is developed by the demand from domestic travel and inbound travel from other Asian countries,” said Mr Dross, “which is a danger to the destination as the products which are developed now for the source markets are not sustainable in the long-term.”
“Vietnam needs to find a way to both accommodate the needs of travellers now as well as to find a way to protect the destination for the future at the same time.”
At the HCMC panel discussion, Chief Operations Officer for Trails of Indochina Mr Rob Rankin offered a lesson from Phuket, Thailand.
“Phuket is one of the most successful beach mass tourism destinations in Asia,” he said.
“When I travelled around the island, I was really quite amazed at how subdued all the construction was. You can look all along the coast and see only trees; you can’t see the resorts.
“I don’t think anyone would say it’s perfect in Phuket, but it’s a much more soft touch than Vietnam is, even though they are receiving many more guests.”
According to RMIT Vietnam lecturer in Tourism and Hospitality Management Ms Narumon Sriratanaviriyakul, education plays an important role in helping the industry develop sustainably.
“Education and training in tourism and hospitality will not only bring up service quality standards,” she said, “but also educate people to lead the industry in a sustainable direction.”
“In our research on tourism education, we found that only 3.2 percent of people working in tourism in Vietnam have a higher education degree.
“This shows a big gap and a shortage to fill for supervisors, middle management and upper management levels.”
The other panellists in HCMC were Pascale Herry, Executive Director TM Group; Mark Boyer, Founder, Rusty Compass; and Nhan Nguyen, School Manager, RMIT Vietnam who served as moderator. In Hanoi, panellists included Jimmy Pham, Founder, KOTO; Marc Emmanuel, General Manager, Pan Pacific Hotel; Dr Michael Palmer, Hanoi Coordinator, School of Business & Management, RMIT Vietnam; and Tori Dixon-Whittle, Director, Auscham Vietnam, and Managing Director TDWCo.
The event co-organisers in Hanoi and HCMC were RMIT University Vietnam, Travel Massive, Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon, and Pan Pacific Hotel Hanoi.
Story: Press Office