Culture minister in the hot seat over nation's flagging tourism reputation

VietNamNet Bridge – Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Tuan Anh received a huge number of questions focused on improving the reputation of Viet Nam's tourism sector to keep pace with other countries in the region during the 13th National Assembly's Q&A session yesterday morning, June 13.

NA, tourism, local services, rural workers, mountainous areas

An aerial view of Cat Ba Island, a popular tourist attraction in the north of Viet Nam. National Assembly deputies on Thursday challenged the tourism minister on how to address the many issues currently faced by the tourism sector.

Deputies asked the minister about solutions to prevent tourists from being overcharged and swindled by local services.

Deputy Huyen Hoai Phuong from the southern province of Tay Ninh said the tourism sector overall had contributed significantly to socio-economic development, but some shortcomings remained.

The increasing number of tourists who fall victim to scams in Viet Nam has negatively affected the image of the country in the eyes of international visitors.

In addition, the lack of quality tourism products is another reason fewer tourists are returning to the country.

Admitting that scams and overcharging were the main reason for a decline in foreign tourists, the minister said: "Cases of tourists being overcharged occur almost everywhere, causing tourists to form negative impressions about Vietnamese tourism. We have asked relevant agencies to accelerate co-operation and solve this problem.

We are also working on solutions to improve our image."

"We will ask the Government to increase the level of punishment for such scams," Anh said.

In response to deputy Phuong's question about the possibility of founding a tourism police force, the minister said: "I met with Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang to discuss this matter. However, until a tourism police force is set up, I expect existing forces and young volunteers who work as tour guides to protect tourists."

"We will set up CCTV and hotlines at popular tourist sites for people to make complaints where necessary."

Anh said: "By 2015, the Vietnamese tourism sector expects to reach a goal of 7.5 million tourists, with a turnover of US$9-10 billion."

However, he stressed that in order to reach that goal, it would require tight co-operation of all social classes, from individuals to businesses. Creating a professional and skillful labour force for the tourism industry was also a key factor, he said.

Vocational training

Labour Minister Pham Thi Hai Chuyen was the third cabinet member to participate in a live question and answer session at the National Assembly's ongoing fifth session.

She admitted yesterday that the country's vocational training schools were not meeting the real demand of society and businesses, particularly affecting rural workers and those in mountainous areas.

According to Chuyen, Viet Nam's goal to become an industrial nation by 2020 would not be met without preparing human resources.

Under the Government's vocational training project through 2020, the country plans to train 1 million workers every year from 2010 to 2020, but only 27 per cent of the target was met in 2012.

There were more than 1,000 vocational training centres nationwide, both state-owned and private, but many did not meet the demands of each industry and locality, according to NA deputies. A lack of connection between vocational schools and enterprises also contributed to the problem.

Lawmaker Tran Quoc Tuan from southern Tra Vinh Province said that many vocational training schools were unable to recruit enough students, even after investing in new facilities, because students found the training was impractical.

"The Ministry is making efforts to revamp the vocational training curriculum, teachers and facilities to make sure training plans meet market demand," Chuyen said. "The schools should also meet with local businesses to find out their real needs."

Chuyen said the Ministry was also working with foreign companies to bring their human resources and infrastructure assistance to Viet Nam.

In addition, the Ministry will provide a comprehensive assessment of the three-year implementation of a rural training programme this month.

Nguyen Van Tuyet from southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province expressed concerns over the people who have lost their jobs due to the economic slowdown and the need to retrain them. The minister, in response, said she would instruct localities to reassess the number of workers who had lost their jobs to draw up plans to retrain them according to demand from different sectors.

The minister also touched on the issue of sending workers from the 62 poorest districts to work overseas. According to NA deputy Ly Kieu Van from central Quang Tri Province, under Government Decision 71, the plan aims to send 10,000 workers abroad in 2009-10, 50,000 in 2011-15 and increase the number by 15 per cent in 2016-20.

After four years, only 10,000 had moved abroad, according to Van. "They have to borrow millions of dong from the bank and some even return home early and are now without a stable income or job," she said.

Chuyen said it was also partially due to the workers' low awareness of professional work ethics so the Ministry would organise meetings with localities to deal with workers that had dropped out of the programme.

Answering lawmaker Tran Thi Thanh Hai from HCM City's question on raising the minimum wage, Chuyen said the delay was to help businesses and the increase of the minimum wage in 2013 was aimed at balancing the needs of workers, not making businesses suffer.

Watching the live session, Nguyen Hoang Anh, principal of a vocational training college in Thu Duc District, HCM City, said the students often preferred universities to vocational training due to the lack of good teachers who understood the needs of businesses and were up to date with market trends.

The labour minister is scheduled to continue her Q&A session today and Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc will also take the floor.

Source: VNS

NA, tourism, local services, rural workers, mountainous areas