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Last updated: Monday, April 24, 2017

 

Vietnam Tourism Industry: Effective Steps After one Year of Executing Resolution 35

Posted: Monday, April 10, 2017


Resolution 35/NQ-CP of the Government on Business Support and Development dated May 16, 2016, has promoted the effective development and operation of Vietnamese enterprises in general and tourism enterprises in particular.

Tourism start-ups jump
After one year implementing Resolution 35, the number of newly established tourism enterprises has increased sharply. Although there is no official counting of new tourism companies, the newly registered memberships to the Vietnam Tourism Association has picked up rapidly in the last year, about 20 per cent. The Vietnam Society of Travel Agents (VISTA) reported growth of about 23 per cent and the Vietnam Hotel Association (VHA) posted a growth of 18 per cent. The newly founded Vietnam Tourism Education Association (VITEA) also had more than 100 members, which are universities and colleges with tourism training. Therefore, members of the Vietnam Tourism Association (VITA) have exceeded 3,200. In 2016, some provinces set up tourism associations such as Ha Giang, Son La and Kon Tum, bringing member associations of VITA to 45.

The tourism sector has carried out a number of activities in the spirit of Resolution 35 such as promoting public-private dialogue and building an enabling legal environment for businesses. In the spirit of Resolution 35, the Vietnam Tourism Association and its member associations have actively participated in drafting the revised Tourism Law. Many new opening, business-enabling contents will be included in the draft. The business licensing will have much fewer procedures.

According to reports on assessment of investment and business environment improvement, and business support development sent to central and local authorities, the Vietnam Tourism Association said, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has introduced a number of innovative tourism management solutions included in the draft of the amended Tourism Law (voluntary hotel ratings and reduced tourism business conditions, etc.). Some localities have developed policies to encourage companies to invest and develop tourism facilities, invest in tourist attraction promotion, and support tourism human resources training. The coordination of ministries and branches has progressively developed (electronic visa policy and VAT refund for tourists, etc.)

However, the tourism sector still has some existing difficulties and obstacles. In fact, State agencies still manage everything, from professional training, examination, professional certification, specialised assessment, result evaluation and professional awarding. This is evident in decision-making. If social organisations are entitled to do some jobs, the execution will be more transparent and favourable. Nevertheless, State agencies still want to keep them although they lack resources for performing well. This in reality troubles businesses and restricts the development of tourism sector. Essentially, some do not really respect businesses and lack understanding about the principle of placing business at the heart of development.

In addition, some policies, though issued, have been slowly introduced to life due to the lack of coordination of sectors concerned (for example, visa exemption is applied to citizens of some countries but they have to file for visa when they come back to Vietnam from third countries). The task assignment and coordination among related sectors in tourism promotion is unreasonable (for instance, proposing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to carry out tourism promotion in foreign countries while excluding tourism specialisation, thus resulting in waste of tourism promotion funds which are already very limited.

Development support for tourism businesses
The Vietnam Tourism Association suggested that the Government continue to consider visa exemptions for citizens of countries important to the tourism industry of Vietnam. The deployment of electronic visa has provided much more favourable conditions for citizens of 40 countries to apply for visa to Vietnam. But that is not enough. For all countries with developed tourism, a visa waiver policy is always a competitive weapon to draw visitors.

Therefore, at the request of tourism businesses and local tourism associations, the Vietnam Tourism Association proposed that the Government continue extending visa exemption for citizens of five Western European countries (France, the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy) and Belarus for five years, starting from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2022; consider allowing visa exemption for citizens of other countries where a lot of tourists come to Vietnam such as India, Australia, Canada and Eastern European countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania), former Soviet Union countries (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, etc.). A visa waiver for citizens of these countries will help increase international visitors to Vietnam to reach 18-20 million by 2020.

In addition, the association suggested that the Government promulgate specific policies on land tax exemption and reduction for tourism investment projects where there is a low construction coefficient of land use; the Ministry of Industry and Trade immediately apply electricity price and water price used by tourist service establishments the same as electricity and water prices applied to production establishments; the Finance Ministry issue documents guide import duty exemption on hotel equipment and tourist transportation means which are currently unable to be manufactured by local firms These are contents of the Politburo's Resolution 08. The Vietnam Tourism Association will support member businesses to verify and confirm their needs ensure the eligibility of beneficiaries and objects applied.

Meanwhile, some localities provide that open hours of leisure services (such as discotheques, karaoke facilities and bars) in public areas and tourism facilities is before midnight, resulting in a disinterest of tourists in these facilities, particularly those from countries with different time zones as Vietnam.

The association recommended that all localities need to adjust open hours of leisure services in public areas and in tourism facilities to at least prior to 2:00 am. This is a legitimate demand of tourists and a way to extend their stay and increase their spending.

Tourism business in general and hotel operation in particular have been affected by environmental concerns, particularly natural environment. For example, in Hoi An (Quang Nam province), many beaches have been eroded, forcing many coastal resorts to spend a lot of money. Thus, there is a need for policy support to help affected localities to deal with environmental incidents.

Huong Ly








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