The Government of Vietnam identified human resources development as a central component in the development of the tourism industry (Tourism Master Plan 2001 -2010).
The European Union has supported the development of tourism in Vietnam since the mid 1990s. At the request of the Government of Vietnam the EU funded a Human Resources Development in Tourism study in 1997, which was presented and considered at a workshop of senior government and industry personnel in March 1997.
An important finding of the study was that training demand would far outstrip the supply of training institutions in the period up to 2010; and that the pace of expansion in Vietnam would make it impossible for that training demand to be met using a Hotel/Tourism-school-only approach.
Consequently, the European Commission and the Government of Vietnam reached agreement to implement a Human Resources Development in Tourism Project with duration of six years for which the Financing Agreement was signed in 2001 and the project commenced on 4 February 2004 and concluded in February 2010.
The project was well managed by the Government of Vietnam and has achieved significant results mainly through the introduction of a modern tourism skills standards system (Vietnam Tourism Occupational Skills Standards - VTOS) for entry-level operative staff in the entire country. It developed a complementary system of workplace-based training and accreditation through the Vietnam Tourism Certification Board (VTCB).
Following the successful implementation of the Human Resources Development in Tourism project, the Government of Vietnam requested a new project with EU assistance consolidating the previous project whilst also focusing more on alleviating institutional impediments to tourism development and capacity development for the entire sector in line with VNAT’s Human Resources Development Programme, 2015. A detailed proposal was prepared and discussed by Governmental stakeholders during a workshop held in Hanoi in December 2008. The EU Delegation in Vietnam (EUD) assessed the proposal taking into account previous experiences, relevant sector studies and discussions conducted with other development partners such as the Asian Development Bank Greater Mekong Sub-region project, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), Government of Luxembourg initiatives implemented by Lux-Development and the Netherland Development Organisation (SNV).
Subsequently, the Financing Agreement for the Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism Capacity Development Programme (ESRT) was signed between the EU and the Government of Vietnam on 10 November 2010. The general aim of the ESRT is to strengthen institutional and human capacity in order to fully realize the substantial socio-economic development benefits available from the tourism sector while protecting and enhancing the resources (natural and cultural) on which the sector depends. It builds on the success of the former EU-intervention, sustains, and further expands on the VTOS system.
To mainstream responsible tourism principles into Vietnam’s tourism sector to enhance competitiveness and contributing to achieving the Socio Economic Development Plan.
The project purpose is stipulated in the FA as: "To promote the delivery of environmentally and socially responsible tourism services as part of Vietnam’s Tourism Sector Strategy."