Last updated: Wednesday, May 15, 2019


Globalising Vietnam Tourism: A Lot Needs to Be Done

Posted: Monday, January 07, 2019

With abundant tourism potential in both natural landscapes and cultural factors, the Vietnamese tourism has numerous opportunities to attract international visitors. However, developing Vietnam on par with tourism powerhouses is a big puzzle.

Over 15 million international tourists in 2018
International visitor arrivals to Vietnam were estimated at 12.9 million in 2017, an increase of 2.9 million from 2016, or a growth of 29.1 per cent. In 2018, Vietnam’s tourism industry expects to welcome 15.6 million international visitors and over 80 million domestic tourists and earn total revenue of more than VND620 trillion (US$26.6 billion) as reported by the General Statistics Office (GSO). These results showed that more and more international tourists have chosen Vietnam as a place to visit, explore and relax.

Not only being enchanted by beautiful natural landscapes and prolific cuisines, foreign visitors are convinced by the diverse, unique and rich cultural identity of Vietnam. With nearly 2,000 traditional handicraft villages and more than 40,000 historical relics associated with many legends and war victories, the country has become a favourite cultural and historical destination for international visitors.
Simplified entry procedures also help reduce the service time to produce positive results.

Transport infrastructure has greatly improved in the past years with expanded and upgraded roads and bridges and better public transport facilities. The tourism environment has also improved. Tourism products have been diversified to pull a greater exert on foreign tourists. Tourism workers have been well trained in professional skills in addition to friendly and hospitable indigenous people. All makes Vietnam’s tourism more beautiful in the eyes of tourists.

Meanwhile, in recent years, domestic and international tourism promotion has also been strengthened. The Government of Vietnam has also boosted tourism cooperation and some travel firms such as Vietravel, Saigontourist, Hanoitourist and Haidangroup have opened their overseas branches to actively exchange and cooperate with international travel agencies to facilitate foreign tourists to arrive in Vietnam. Recognised for their achievements, Vietravel has been voted as a “World’s Leading Group Tour Operator”; national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines recognised as a “World’s leading airline of cultural identity”; InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort in Da Nang voted for the third time as the “World’s leading luxury resort”. Vietnam was ranked sixth in the Top 10 fastest-growing tourist destinations in 2017 by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

A lot needs to be done
Vietnam’s potential tourism records a rapid growth and achieves important outcomes. However, how to make Vietnam a top country for tourism is difficult.

At the Vietnam Travel and Tourism Summit held on December 6, John Lindquist, a member of VisitBritain - the tourist board of the Great Britain, said that Vietnam welcome over 15 million visitors in 2018, an increase of 10.2 per cent in the last two years. Vietnam’s tourism is growing fast. However, compared with Japan, in recent 10 years, this country’s tourism has expanded strongly since 2015 because Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has chosen tourism as a regrowth momentum. Japan has introduced many policies such as increasing airport capacity, easing visas and increasing budget for tourism. John Lindquist said that Vietnam can go this way too.

Currently, Vietnam’s visa is still more disadvantageous than many other countries in the region. Although visa cost is not big, it still poses price competition when visitors compare costs among destinations before making a final decision. Moreover, visa exemption is also an advantage to attract visitors because most are very reluctant to prepare and arrange procedures and papers.

“Vietnam needs a suitable programme to help travellers know that visiting Vietnam is easy like simple visa procedures, a convenient airway system and easy mobility,” said John Lindquist.

Infrastructure has improved significantly but remained unsynchronised. According to many travel businesses, to reach out the world and stand on par with other tourist countries, Vietnam needs to make adequate investment for infrastructure systems, from roads, waterways and airways that need not be furnished with modern equipment system, developed with supporting services, to make its public transport system easy, convenient and friendly to foreigners.

Moreover, according to many experts, to develop outbound tourism, Vietnam needs to pay special attention to the quality of tourism human resources. Vietnamese human resources in general and tourism workers in particular need to be well-trained and capably expert in professional skills to serve holidaymakers. Residents at tourist sites should also be informed and encouraged to study English to provide timely assistance to visitors.

In addition, diversifying attractive tourism products is also a top priority. Given the increasingly competitive tourism for the time being, localities and businesses need to have sound guides and plans for developing products and channels to reach customers and media. Mr. Nguyen Quoc Ky, General Director of Vietravel, the only Vietnamese company among 50 top Asian tourism companies, said, localities and businesses need to build their own tourism products of individual identity to stimulate tourists’ discovery and experience demands.

On the other hand, overseas tourism promotion should be accelerated. According to tourism experts, Vietnam needs to launch remarkable activities and avoid small-scale segmented events that cause waste and produce low effects. At the same time, it is necessary to strengthen cooperation among local authorities and among travel companies and boost international tourism cooperation in investment in infrastructure, accommodation, entertainment and shopping facilities.

“Tourism workers should make the country famous and bring Vietnam to friends worldwide. Vietnam needs to create a brand and promote this brand to potential customers. In order to create a brand, we need the budget and have right policies,” John Lindquist recommended.

Endowed with spectacular scenery and rich cultural identity, Vietnam always has favourable conditions for strong tourism development. However, to fully tap tourism potential and make it regional and world class, the country must have clear directions with specific strategies, cooperation and efforts of all-tier authorities, people and tourism workers.

Thu Huyen

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