2017 marked a year of success for Vietnam’s Tourism Industry. The tourism sector welcomed 13 million international visitors, up 30 per cent and 74 million domestic visitors, up approximately 20 per cent. The total revenue of the sector reached over VND500 trillion (US$23 billion), contributing about 7.5 per cent to Vietnam’s GDP in 2017. On the occasion of the New Year 2018, Vietnam Business Forum had an interview with Mr Nguyen Van Tuan, Director General of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), about the achievements of the industry in the past year. Thanh Nga reports.
Could you please highlight the tourism industry in the past year?
Vietnam’s tourism was honoured to receive many prizes awarded by prestigious international organisations. These awards have contributed to positioning the brand and image for Vietnam as a quality destination. Many large-scale and high-quality resort projects were put into use during the year. This has increased the capacity of receiving and serving international tourists as well as domestic travellers, contributing to the development of tourism businesses and dynamic areas and building brands for Vietnam tourism domestically and internationally.
However, the promotion campaigns had many new features. Vietnam has been developing the public-private partnership and establishing Tourism Advisory Council and Strategic Investors Club and leading tourism enterprises.
In addition, major events of the year such as the Tourism Ministerial Meeting of APEC and Asia-Pacific region, and Lao Cai – Northwest National Tourism 2017 and other local events have created spillover effects, contributing to promoting images and products of tourism in Vietnam. In 2017, the world learned more about Vietnam as the United Nations World Tourism Organisation named Vietnam one of the top 10 fastest growing tourism destinations in the world, ranking sixth in the world and leading Asia in terms of growth.
This marked a milestone of Vietnam’s tourism in 2017. The success of the tourism industry was attributed to the attention and direction of the Party and State, the Resolution of the Politburo, the Law on Tourism in 2017, the timely direction and policies of the Government and the Prime Minister. The achievement also came from the efforts of the tourism industry, especially of the business community, localities and guidance of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism leaders, the State agencies, ministries and industries and enterprises that have joined hands with the tourism industry to remove difficulties and obstacles. In addition, the amended Tourism Law has been passed by the National Assembly with many new points that also facilitate good tourism development in the coming period.
Besides the successes, what are difficulties and problems that need to be solved under current circumstances?
Tourism is an integrated, interdisciplinary, interregional and highly socialised economy. Therefore, creating a value chain to form many tourism products needs an engagement of a large number of sectors other than only tourism industry. We appreciate and agree with the assessment report of the Vietnam Private Sector Forum: Vietnam’s tourism is facing challenges and bottlenecks. Four major bottlenecks are identified as follows:
First, visa policy has improved but remains not very open or very competitive, compared to other countries. Second, we lack resources and capacity to perform promotion campaigns in a professional and effective way. Third, Vietnam is limited to improving and maintaining the quality of professional services in the aviation industry, as well as the ability to connect direct flights from Vietnam to its key markets. Fourth, the management of destinations to ensure security and safety in many localities, and attract a relatively large number of tourists poses many problems.
The overheating growth and piling up of small areas create overcrowding in tourism and inadequacies, indigenous culture, which affects the image of Vietnam’s tourism and the sustainable development goals.
In addition to the bottlenecks and objective reasons mentioned above, there are other limitations and weaknesses, such as problems in management of the tourism sector at all levels, tour operators and tour guides, passenger transport. These problems need to be improved and adjusted in a better direction. In addition, there are many problems in quality control of services. We have made great progress but not enough. In some destinations, the prices are adjusted negatively, not ensuring environmental sanitation and quality of service, and making visitors feel insecure.
Human resources of tourism for the immediate term and long-term require short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies to overcome this weakness.
These issues need to be seriously considered to take feasible measures, to improve the situation in the near future and to ensure sustainable development.
What are the targets for 2018, looking towards the goals of receiving 17-20 million international tourists, contributing more than 10 per cent of GDP by 2020?
Tourism is an integrated economy and a very sensitive sector, so an effect can cause a sudden decline. The recovery has to be a time-consuming process, but the decline can be very rapid. Therefore, we must stabilise the situation and policies, especially ensuring of safety, security and environmental sanitation, to create confidence for visitors.
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