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Tourism industry faces serious labor shortage

Because of low pay, many workers have left the tourism sector.

Two weeks ago, Chu Hong Minh, attending a conference in Hanoi, booked a room at a 5-star hotel at one of the world’s top brands. He left the room in the morning and was astonished when seeing a person in his room. Later, a representative of the hotel came to see him and apologized for the incident, blaming mistakes made by a student still on a probation period.

The story shows the serious shortage of workers in the tourism industry, which has rarely happened in the past. Many travel firms have complained that it is very difficult to recruit new workers, though they are paying 20-30 percent higher.

Nguyen Quyet Thang from the HCM City University of Technology said students now don’t want to study tourism because they find opportunities in the industry are unstable. One of Thang’s acquaintances, who was a famous tour guide, left the industry after two years during the pandemic. He now earns his living as a translator and clothing seller. 

“This is the real situation now. I think that only after several years, when the Covid-19 pandemic is contained, will students come back to study tourism,” Thang said.

According to the Chair of the Vietnam Chamber Management Club Nguyen Quang, hotels are not only facing a labor shortage, but also low quality of personnel. Previously, one needed to satisfy strict requirements to be recruited, but now inexperienced workers are also accepted.

Quang cited a survey conducted by Hotel Job (June 2022), when hotels recovered after the pandemic, up to 48 percent of hotel personnel said they are not satisfied with the income and working regime. At both Vietnamese and foreign owned hotels, the average salaries of workers is just VND5-6 million a month. If counting the VND2-3 million worth of service charge, their total income will be VND7-8 million. 

Meanwhile, the hospitality sector requires very high foreign language skills and professional knowledge. Workers in the sector have to work in a complicated environment and work in shifts. 

Quang said the service quality will determine the attraction of tourists. Resort Six Senses in Ninh Van Bay in Khanh Hoa province still had a high occupancy rate of 65 percent during the pandemic, though the room rate was high (VND10 million/room). But 5-star hotels in Nha Trang could not attract guests though the hotel room rate was just VND1 million.

He said that lowering hotel room rates is not a good solution. Low hotel room rates lead to low revenue, low pay to staff, and workers will not want to work. This is a vicious cycle.

Quoc Khanh


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