English vital for tour-bus drivers


Tour BusThe tourist industry has asked the Ministry of Transport to modify some the suggestions the ministry recently made in a draft to update and improve the quality of transport services for visitors.

In the draft, the ministry suggested that drivers have a simple command of English and, where necessary, have some knowledge of other languages spoken by the three to four million foreigners who flock to Viet Nam each year.

It also suggested that business licences for tourist cars and vans last for 15 years. However, the tourist industry said it would prefer 10 years.

The draft suggests tourist cars be properly labelled with signs issued by the ministry. This has brought support from transport companies.

Director of the Department of Travel under the Viet Nam Administration of Tourism, Vu The Binh, said the difficulty was that in Ha Noi and HCM City, vehicles were often kept out of city centres in rush hours. However, this was where foreign tourists usually stayed.

Nguyen Thi Thu Hien, vice head of the Transport Unit of the Department of Road Transport, said the ministry would further consider the regulation.

Binh said labels for tourist vans would be issued within a week. The vice general director of the ABC Transport Group, Ngo Phuong Thinh, said this would be a good move.

“The provision of tourism labels will help companies become more trusted and more professional in the eyes of foreign tourists,” she said. “However, there must be a clear issuing process so that companies can get these labels in the shortest time.”

Vice general director of the Mai Linh Corporation, a nationwide transport group, Dinh Phuong Thuy, agreed, adding that companies would not stop business to wait for a label.

Many disagreed with the draft circular’s suggestion that tourist cars should be licensed for 15 years from production date.

“The duration should be only 10 years. For my company, cars that have been used for four to five years must be liquidated because many tourists refuse to travel in such cars,” said Dinh Phuong Thuy.

Caroline Bruckler, a German tourist in Ha Noi, said she always wanted to travel in a new and safe car. “I think most people would think the same,” she said.

Thuy also suggested the draft circulation also cover regulations on seat-belts for tourism vans, since this was a very important matter with foreign tourists.

Language certificate

The draft circular requires drivers of tourism vans to have an A-level, foreign-language certificate and another certificate for first-aid. Drivers of cars with more than 45 seats, will have to have a certificate stating they are skilled at keeping itineraries and using an itinerary observation device.

Tran Anh Son, vice director of Tan Son Nhat Airport Service Company, said a foreign language should not be compulsory, since cars with 35 seats or more always carried tour guides who usually spoke a foreign language.

“We should only encourage drivers of cars of 16 seats or below to have a foreign language certificate,” he said.

Vice director of Ha Noi’s Department of Culture, Information and Tourism, Nguyen Tien Dung, agreed, saying language skills would take time for drivers to acquire, thus creating opportunities for makers of fake certificates.

Deputy Minister of Culture, Information and Tourism, Tran Chien Thang said the ministry would accept opinions on the draft circular until it comes into effect on July 1.