Tourism industry in need of staff with wide language skills

Staff writer, with CNA

Wed, May 29, 2013 - Page 3

The travel industry needs to recruit staff who can speak less popular foreign languages in the wake of the growing numbers of visitors, tourism officials said.

Although about 30,000 people hold a tour guide license, fewer than 100 can speak languages from countries that are not the market’s traditional targets, an official from the Tourist Guide Association of the Republic of China said.

As Taiwan is witnessing increasing numbers of travelers from regions such as Southeast Asia, it is necessary for the industry to hire tour guides who are familiar with the foreign languages and cultures of these potential markets, the official said.

According to the Tourism Bureau, about 1.1 million of the 7.31 million foreign visitors to Taiwan last year were from Southeast Asia, a 5.7 percent increase from the previous year.

“We need people who can speak Indonesian, Vietnamese and Thai, specifically,” the official said.

His point of view was shared by the Ministry of Examination, which is to hold a second round of tests for about 6,000 foreign-language tour guide applicants this weekend.

From this year, the ministry will offer examinations in five additional languages — Russian, Italian, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Malaysian.

Taiwan is seeking to increase its attractiveness as a tourist destination by recruiting guides who are able to speak more than one language.

Guides who can speak more than one language are usually paid at least 50 percent more than those who only speak Mandarin.