Last updated: Thursday, May 23, 2013
Promoting Tourism for Poverty AlleviationPosted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012
According to the research result by World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), it is estimated that by 2015 in Vietnam, tourism will be the mot labour intensive industry accounting for about 15 percent the national workforce. Tourism human resources will play an important role in national economic growth rate and contribute to reduce poverty.
Vietnam Business Forum Magazine had an interview with Mr Pham Tien Dung, Director of Golden Tour and Convention, Director of ICT Promotion Agency about measures for extension of tourism models for poverty reduction. Thu Huyen reports.
Statistics from the world’s 50 poorest countries shows that tourism is the largest forex earner. Developing nations have competitive advantage thanks to their unique traditional cultural assets, which are engaged to the poor. Therefore, it is reasonable to create conditions for them to earn a living from tourism activities.
Why is it necessary to combine tourism promotion and poverty reduction in Vietnam?
Not only being a sole economic-social activity, but tourism is also a cultural activity, becoming a crucial tool to improve life standard, reduce poverty, and gradually narrow wealth gap. Tourism creates a new job every 2.4 seconds while the number of people in Vietnamese rural area accounts for nearly 80 percent of population (attracting over 500,000 direct labors and over 1 million indirect ones). Given tourism development, local people can sell many products they made locally (export at site), trading opportunities increase by many times, helping to create jobs for local residents. Tourism infrastructure development also benefits the poor community via transport, communication systems, electricity, domestic water supply, health care services etc.
In the past year, thanks to suitable reform and open policies, Vietnam has made a great progress in implementing the above strategy. The number of international tourists Vietnam received in 1990 was 250,000, which then went up to 2 million in 2000 and over 4 million in 2007. That of national visitors increased from 11.2 million in 2000 to 15.5 million in 2005 and approximately 20 million in 2007. After the hard time in 2009, tourism saw a rather quick recovery. The number of 922 million international visitors in 2008 will soar to 1.6 billion ones in 2020. The world’s tourism turnover in 2020 is expected to double that in 1995. This has created more jobs, helped to shift local economic structure as well as reduce poverty.
It is evaluated by many experts that personnel in tourism industry have rather high income and social labor productiveness. Social labor productiveness of hotels and restaurants only is ranked 6 out of 18 in the national economy and increases by 2.36 times against the average social labor productiveness. It confirms that tourism development has made a large contribution to handle national social-economic issues, create more jobs for the society and have high social labor productiveness.
In Vietnam, pressure and opportunities to have new tourism products and sites give chances for tourism to expand to different regions across the country. In particular, in recent years, tourism has seen special growth in coastal areas and some islands. Strong economic-social development of Vietnam in general and shift from agricultural economy to service-oriented one have brought about many opportunities to the poor to have jobs with higher income in tourism industry.
Tourism is expanding in the regions with high poverty rate, poor qualification and skills, few training opportunities, which makes the issue of lacking qualified human resources a big challenge. Local people can fill many posts in tourism industry easily if they are given chances to be enrolled in vocational training. This situation reflects the necessity and important opportunity to promote local human resource, give chances to the poor to get benefit by organizing appropriate vocational training courses.
How will people participate in tourism activities for poverty reduction? Can you talk about some typical projects for local poverty reduction?
In Vietnam, sustainable tourism development program for the poor implemented in some provinces has gained remarkable achievements, brought about opportunities, contributed to poverty reduction for the poor in visit sites. Sustainable Tourism projects for the sake of the poor have been initiated in rural and mountainous areas, where people have low income and limited living conditions. The result of helping the poor to reduce poverty is that the people know how to make decisions by themselves, make plans for future and also give priority to gender issues. Concerning helping them to have skills in handicraft production, restore and develop products serving tourism, they are also involved in tourism activities bringing about profits such as participating in exchange and music events etc, cooking, weaving brocade and selling products to tourists.
For example, the Project “Eco-tourism development in Khe Ro reservation site in An Lac commune” in 2010 co-financed by self-managed TRENTO province and Italian GTV organization with initial fund up to nearly € 200,000 helped people in 4 villages (Na O, Bieng, Doi Moi, Dong Bay) of An Lac commune with total household number of 103 to target exploitation of existing resources, build up tourism products, services of selling souvenirs and promote tourism for poverty reduction.
However, successful tourism for poverty reduction requires different standard models, which takes time, effort and finance, doesn’t it?
Each locality has its own characteristics of geography, natural conditions as well as human and natural resources, which certainly requires a study for appropriate model when engaging tourism to local economic development in order to promote tourism’s effect. The beforehand work is to organize conferences, workshops with participation of related agencies and departments such as Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Tourism Center, Research Institute and some provincial and non-provincial tourism enterprises etc to collect comments and contributions to build Proposal of developing a tourism model suitable with local conditions. Besides, it is necessary to organize study tours to successful community tourism models in some provinces such as Hoa Binh, Tuyen Quang, Ha Giang. Thus, research activity and implementation procedure are very crucial to have a local effective tourism model for poverty reduction.
Thus, what measures are needed so that tourism for poverty reduction can fully promote its practical effects?
It is not easy to escape from poverty, which requires not only involvement of tourism insiders but also responsibilities of nations, organizations and people themselves. In tourism development, poverty reduction should be considered to be a prioritized target, which needs a strategic and professional intervention plan. The crucial role of human resource development strategy for poverty reduction through tourism activities should be promoted more and integrated with policy making and planning. The targets should include poverty reduction, income generation for communities, especially those with heritages certified by UNESCO.
In addition, to develop sustainably and gain big benefits in long term from tourism, human resources should have their qualification improved, aiming at professionalization in each stage. It is necessary to have give opportunities to the poor to access tourism training courses with suitable contents, build up appropriate methods of developing human resources among the poor, existing rural areas and visit sites; provide training on “life skills” and career development; seek for partners and supporting organizations, development agencies or programmes. Life skills has recently raised by Mr Douglas Hainsworth since he thought that it would help people on effective income management and avoid falling to the poverty again.