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Tourism

Last updated: Monday, March 18, 2019

 

Vietnam Tourism: Opportunities and Challenges

Posted: Monday, January 07, 2019


Vietnamese tourism has maintained a very good growth rate in recent years, with international visitor arrivals to Vietnam rising by an average of over 11 per cent a year. In 2018, Vietnam welcomed about 15.6 million international visitors and recorded tourism revenue of over VND620 trillion (US$26.6 billion). Vietnam will be a key tourism market of the world in the 21st century as predicted by many experts. However, this also poses a lot of challenges to Vietnam.

Facts and figures
Bloom Consulting, a consulting firm specialised in nation branding, announced that Vietnam’s tourism ranks 47th in the world (climbing two places) and 15th in Asia. This is seen as impressive improvement in rankings, as it stood behind only tourism powers such as Thailand (2nd in the world and No. 1 in Asia), Singapore (5th in the world and 3rd in Asia), Malaysia (23rd in the world and 9th in Asia), Indonesia (35th in the world and 11th in Asia), and the Philippines (40th in the world and 12th in Asia).

Tourism is a smokeless industry that delivers great value to the economy. Endowed with natural landscapes and cultural values, Vietnam has huge opportunities to become a great tourism power of the world.

More international airlines have opened direct flights to Vietnam, including Air New Zealand with flights between Vietnam and New Zealand, Shanghai - Ho Chi Minh City, Turkey - Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang - Hong Kong, Sydney/Melbourne - Ho Chi Minh City, and Dong Hoi - Chiang Mai. Besides, some airports have been upgraded and expanded, such as Tan Son Nhat, Cam Ranh and Da Nang airports, to facilitate tourism development. Moreover, cultural and sports activities enable Vietnam to diversify tourism products.

With a rapid tourism development growth, a series of tourism infrastructure projects have been also deployed, including many 5-star coastal resorts and hotels developed by foreign investors. 113 accommodation facilities have been accredited 3-5 star by the end of 2018, consisting of 26 5-star and 35 4-star facilities. Currently, the country has 28,000 accommodation facilities with over 550,000 rooms, an increase of more than 2,400 facilities from 2017), comprised of 145 5-star hotels with 47,111 rooms and 267 4-star hotels with 35,467 rooms.

Challenges
In fact, given its current potential and strengths, the Vietnamese tourism industry has not developed on par with its potential advantages. In recent years, although tourism types have been further diversified, they remain generally poor, fragmented and monotonous. Service quality is still low, promotion is still passive, and tourism connectivity remains weak and disconcerted to international events and images. Destination positioning is embarrassing, impulsive and unplanned. Resources and personnel have been properly invested for research activity to bring the Vietnamese tourism brand to its worthy level.

Vietnam has many travel companies, but up to 84 per cent of them are small in scale and weak in competitiveness. The connectivity among companies in the same industry is discrete and the business-government relationship is limited. This will greatly affect their globalisation plans. In addition, objective limitations such as environmental pollution, social evils, traffic congestion and food safety also pose huge problems that cannot be resolved in a short time. Many countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Switzerland have warned their citizens when travelling to Vietnam. This is a very serious difficulty that greatly affects Vietnam's tourism image.

Professional tour guides also play an important role when training has not met actual requirements and their foreign language skills are not sufficient for target markets.

According to statistics from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), in 2018, Vietnam had 380 new international travel companies, totalling 1,985 international travel firms, issued 4,678 tour guide certificates and replaced 1,350 certificates. Currently, the country has 23,650 certified guides, including 14,932 international tour guides, 8,456 domestic tour guides, and 262 on-site tourist guides. Vietnam still lacks exemplary tourism entrepreneurs. And above all, the Vietnamese tourism industry is still short of a true orchestrator leading the industry to the world integration.

What should the Vietnamese tourism industry do?
According to the VNAT, Vietnam first of all needs to improve the advisory apparatus and State management of tourism from central to local levels. This helps promote tourism development mechanisms and policies as well as carry out consistent, effective and sustainable tourism activities to unlock domestic potential under the spirit of Resolution 08 of the Politburo and the Tourism Law.

Restructuring focuses on following factors: Resources for tourism development (finance and investment, human and policy), tourism products to sharpen competitive edge and distinction, arrival markets to define target and potential markets for development investment, tourism management system, travel business system, and tourism human resources, particularly high-quality administrative officers and HR officers. First and foremost, it is necessary to focus on restructuring forms of travel businesses (operating inbound and outbound tours), suggest the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism to mobilise restaurant and hotel businesses together with leading prestigious tour operators of Vietnam to engage in yearly tourism stimulus programmes. Accordingly, tours under these programmes will be combined with discounts on restaurant and hotel services to attract domestic tourists and draw international travellers to Vietnam. This is also the way for businesses to promote their brands.

In addition to concentrating on improving the administrative apparatus, the Vietnamese tourism industry should give priority to investing in promoting, marketing and branding Vietnamese destination images and brands to enhance Vietnam’s competitiveness on the world tourism market. Promotion activity has progressed but still slowed in comparison with other countries. Resources for this field are already little but dispersed, thus the scale of tourism promotion and marketing activities in foreign nations is too small to make considerable impact on communications and target markets. Therefore, it is necessary to focus on prioritising resources to renovate tourism promotion activities towards professionalism and efficiency to broaden the approach to potential markets.

Tourism development investment needs to avoid being segmented but must concentrate to create a boost in regional tourism development. Tourism investment projects must respect and comply with socioeconomic development plans and general tourism development plans of the country, the region and the locality. Special attention should be paid to principles of sustainable development, resource and environmental protection.

Luong Tuan








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