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HCM City loses foreign travelers because of language barrier

Travel firms in HCM City had many times refused to serve groups of foreign travelers because they could not find the tour guides who can speak less common languages and had practice cards.

More and more non-English speaking travelers arrive in Vietnam

Lacking tour guides causes a headache

Lien Bang travel firm has expressed regret about the missed opportunities, when it had to refused to serve the travelers from Taiwan, China and Hong Kong just because it could not find suitable tour guides.

Many other travel firms in HCM City are also facing the same problem because of which–they have lost rich travelers with expected high spending levels in Vietnam.

Nguyen Viet Anh, a senior official of the HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said that travel firms have found new sources of travelers, while the number of travelers from non-English and non-French language speaking countries has been increasing rapidly.

In order to develop the new markets, travel firms need to have the tour guides who can speak less common languages. However, there are very few tour guides who can speak the languages.

In fact, travel firms have been trying to train tour guides themselves by gathering those people, who can speak the foreign languages, and preparing them with tourism knowledge and tour guide’s skills.

However, the efforts made by travel firms are still not enough. It is estimated that there are 240 tour guides who have been found and trained by travel firms. However, they still cannot practice as tour guides because they have not been granted practice cards.

The watchdog agency refuses to grant practice cards to the tour guides because they do not have university degrees. Meanwhile, the Tourism Law stipulates that university degree is one of the compulsory conditions for tour guides to receive practice cards.

The HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the HCM City Tourism Association many times asked the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) reconsider the requirements on tour guides.

They believe that it would be better to grant practice cards to those, who finish junior colleges instead of universities, provided that they can satisfy the requirements in profession and foreign language skills.

The tour guides speaking Chinese, who had to stop practicing the job recently due to the new requirements on tour guides, should also be granted practice cards in order to help ease the shortage of less-common-language speaking tour guides.

However, the competent agencies still keep silent to the proposal by the travel firms. Meanwhile, travel firms have no other choice than waiting and keeping complaining.

Vietnam needs proper programming to train tour guides

Travel firms said that they cannot foresee the sources of foreign travelers; therefore, they cannot prepare tour guides to serve travelers. Meanwhile, VNAT targets different markets in different years when programming Vietnam’s tourism promotion activities.

It would be a great waste of the manpower if the people with junior college degrees cannot work as tour guides, even though they can meet the requirements and have experiences. Meanwhile, university graduates mostly can speak English and French only.

Trinh Cong Ly, Director of the Soc Trang provincial Tourism Promotion Center, said the province is striving to attract tourists from Myanmar. In a preparation step for the plan, the province would have either to teach Myanmar language to the tour guides, who have practice cards already, or wait until the people, who have university degrees and can speak the language, agree to work for the travel firms in the province.

Doanh Nhan

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