Issues on Vietnam tourism discussed

HANOI (Viet Nam News/ANN) - Problems in Vietnam’s tourism sector are discussed by leading experts during a two-day Travel & Tourism Summit which started in Hanoi on Wednesday. 

The event gathers some 1,500 participants including CEOs from leading groups in the world, domestic and foreign tourism experts and nearly 1,000 enterprises.

Participants will hear reports and analyses by leaders in domestic and foreign tourism.

At the first session Wednesday afternoon, deputy culture minister Le Quang Tung admitted Vietnam needs to re-structure the sector.

 “In 1990, the country received 250,000 foreign tourists while in 2017, it welcomed more than 13 million foreign visitors and 73 million domestic tourists,” he said. “So from 1990 to 2017, the number of foreign tourists increased 52 times while domestic tourists increased 72 times.”

However, Vietnam just ranked 67th of 136 economies, fifth in Southeast Asia, according to the Global Competitiveness Report in competitiveness capacity.

Tung said Vietnamese tourism’s obstacles included poor infrastructure, weak human resources, low capacity of managing destinations and developing tourism along with environmental protection.

“Thus re-structuring tourism is a must,” he said.

Tung also revealed that yesterday, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved a project to restructure the tourism sector, which focuses on potential markets and developing human resources.

The project aims to increase tourism sector revenue to US$45 billion, more almost double the amount from last year, contributing 10 per cent to the GDP and creating 6 million jobs by 2025.

Tung hoped experts, enterprises and investors would propose solutions to develop Vietnam’s tourism at the event.

Kenneth Atkinson, executive chairman of Grant Thornton Vietnam Ltd, a business advisor firmsaid Vietnam has great potential to develop tourism, with many luxury hotels in big cities.

He noted Nha Trang is a special market with the most beautiful beach resorts in Vietnam.

In 2017, Khanh Hoa Province received 3.4 million domestic tourists and 2 million international tourists, a 20 per cent increase against 2016, most of tourists are Russian and Chinese, he added.

Thailand needed 20 years to reach the 30 million visitors it receives annually today. Atkinson noted the number of tourists to Vietnam in 2017 (12.6 million) increased to 16 million in 2017, which was a positive signal.

“If the tourism infrastructure is invested properly, the country has more chances to increase the tourist numbers,” he said. “Maybe just seven years to reach Thailand’s present number of tourists.”

He also noted some environmental problems in Ha Long Bay and Sa Pa.

He suggested Vietnam should diversify sources of tourists, focus on quality rather than quantity, protect the environment and avoid harming the scenery.

Olivier Muehlstein - CEO of BCG Singapore said Vietnam should determine its target markets and build a trademark for tourism to attract group tours and entice tourists to return to Vietnam.

He also suggested loosening visa policies to attract visitors.

Tomorrow, the summit will receive Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam and hear speeches by experts including John Lindquist, a high ranking consultant at BCG, Chang Chee Pey, deputy director of Singapore Tourism Boarch and Craig Douglas, vice chairman of Lodgis Hospitality Group.

The session will focus on developing tourism in terms of quality and sustainabilty.

The summit is hosted by the Private Economy Development Research Board, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, National Tourism Advisory Board and VNExpress online newspaper. The event is in the framework of the Vietnam Economic Forum, which consists of various events held from May 2018 to March 2019.