Human capital ‘key’ to sustainable Mekong tourism

business February 27, 2017 01:00

By THE NATION

TOURISM EXPERTS have called for sustainable tourism in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) by viewing human capital development and human resource development as “strategic pillars”.



Jens Thraenhart, executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), said: “In the Mekong tourism region, we absolutely want all of those multiple bottom-line outcomes. But they are so much tougher to work towards when the industry’s demand for qualified and committed people far exceeds supply.”

The tourism industry requires a different kind of employee – someone with a “much broader creative mindset”, according to Peter Semone, managing partner of consulting firm Destination Human Capital.

“Today, tourism is a multifaceted, technology-driven, competitive global industry,” Semone said. 

As trends in tourism continue to move away from the mass to the more customised, employers are beginning to see the role of human resources in a very different light. Soft skills, problem solving, and technological competencies are becoming desirable attributes across all operational and managerial levels.

When travel and tourism organisations find it difficult to employ experienced, qualified, or appropriately trained people, service quality can suffer, according to both tourism experts.

They assert that there is a strong correlation between higher levels of service quality and improved industry indicators, such as expenditure per trip and revenue per available room.

The human resource challenges in the GMS are no different than in other regions. However, in dynamic fast-growing destinations, such as Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, it is especially difficult to recruit sufficiently qualified and committed talent.

Tourism is a driving force for socio-economic development in the GMS. While Southeast Asia is the fastest growing tourism region in the world is the fastest growing tourism region in Asia. This growth is expected to continue as is the pressure on human capital development.

Thraenhart said his office was keen to showcase some of the good human capital development practices in the Mekong tourism region.

One example is ITC’s inclusive tourism project, which has motivated tourism stakeholders, built skills, and facilitated partnerships at key strategic points along Myanmar-EU tourism supply chains.

The MTCO is, in partnership with Destination Human Capital, organising the first ever “mini” Mekong Tourism Forum (MTF) at the annual ITB in Berlin. MTF@ITB Berlin 2017 will be themed “Prosper with People”.