In order to facilitate the implementation of the MRA – TP, Vietnam National Administration on Tourism, with support from the ESRT programme, has produced an ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals Handbook. The Handbook will be endorsed by the ASEAN Tourism Ministers Meeting at the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Vientiane, Laos in mid-January 2013 and made available to all AMS. In addition, a series of User Guides for Tourism Professionals, Employers and Training Organisations have also been prepared and put online to answer questions about how MRA – TP works, and the requirements and implications for tourism employees and employers (http://mra.esrt.vn).
ASEAN have established the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals (MRA-TP) in order to increase the international mobility of tourism labour across the ASEAN region in line with ASEAN policy. Each ASEAN nation has its own standards, certification and regulations for recognising the competency of workers in the tourism sector. Therefore, there is a need for an MRA to facilitate agreement on what constitutes equivalent competency to work in tourism by a worker, for example from Vietnam, who is seeking a position in Malaysia. The MRA – TP is therefore designed to address the imbalance between supply and demand for tourism jobs across the ASEAN region; and establish a mechanism for the free movement of skilled and certified tourism labour across the ASEAN region.
The MRA – TP provides a mechanism for agreement on the equivalence of tourism certification procedures and qualifications across ASEAN. When ASEAN nations mutually recognise each other’s qualifications this will encourage a free and open market for tourism labour across the region and boost the competitiveness of the tourism sector in each ASEAN nation, while at the same time attracting needed talent to meet local skills shortages. The eligibility to work in a host country will of course be subjected to prevailing domestic laws and regulations of the host country.
In order for a Foreign Tourism Professional to be recognised by other ASEAN Member States and to be eligible to work in a host country, they will need to possess a valid tourism competency certificate in a specific tourism job title as specified in the Common ASEAN Tourism Curriculum (CATC), issued by the Tourism Professional Certification Board (TPCB) in an ASEAN Member State. There are 32 job titles covered under this MRA, ranging from housekeeping, front office, food and beverages services, and food production for hotel division, to travel agencies and tour operator for travel division. See the diagram (LOCATION) on how the MRA will work in practice when it is introduced in 2015.
The MRA on Tourism Professionals is an important driver in raising standards of tourism and improving qualifications of the tourism workforce in the ASEAN region. Tourism and hospitality professionals in Vietnam who have a VTOS Certificate will be able to have this accredited through a mapping of their qualification to the ASEAN Common Competency Standards for Tourism Professionals (ACCSTP).
The Vietnam Tourism Occupational Skills Standards will be a key component in helping tourism professionals gain recognition under the MRA – TP as well as for tourism companies to support their staff in gaining the qualifications needed by 2015. Tourism and hospitality educators and training providers will also need to review their curriculum to ensure this aligns with VTOS and the ACCSTP, and can seek advice and support from the Vietnam Tourism Certification Board (VTCB).