Tourism industry urged to keep pushing

More than five million international tourists travelled to Viet Nam in 2010 – the highest number for 20 years. Last year, the domestic tourism industry also posted significant growth of 35 per cent.

Viet Nam News spoke to Vu The Binh, chairman of the Viet Nam Travel Association and former head of the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism's Travel Department, on the industry's development plans for this year.

What can you say about the tourism industry's achievements last year?

Welcoming the five-millionth tourist was an historical landmark and a new page in the sector's development. We have waited a long time for this moment.

It was the result of ongoing efforts by tourism companies and provincial authorities' promotional campaigns, most notably the "Viet Nam Impression" programme and the Government's incentive policies. Things don't happen overnight. It takes time for these promotional campaigns to reach holiday-makers.

There's a widely held belief that tourism numbers don't mean anything. That is simply not true. By attracting so many visitors, we have affirmed our presence in the regional and world tourism markets. I really hope this achievement will provide the impetus for even more development this year. We have achieved a positive result compared with other regional countries and should strive to do more this year.

The five millionth visitor was from China. Can you read anything into this?

China is an important tourism market. Out of a population of more than one billion, 50 million travel overseas each year. It is therefore understandable that we pay appropriate attention to this market. It is not just Viet Nam but many other Asian countries that strive to attract visitors from China. It was formally believed that most of the Chinese visitors that came to Viet Nam came through the border gates. This situation changed in 2010. There was a two-fold increase in the number of Chinese tourists travelling by air.

What should the sector do this year to further boost visitor-numbers?

There are many things to do this year. Top priority should be given to creating new tourism products that focus on adventure, marine and cultural tourism. In my opinion, product diversification is the key to attracting more visitors.

Improving the training of tourism staff is also vital to the industry's development. Currently, it lags behind the tourism services offered by other regional countries. The industry needs to co-ordinate more closely with universities to boost standards.

In addition, there need to be more tax incentives and further investment by the Government to upgrade infrastructure facilities.

Last but not least, the industry should continue to invest in tourism promotion with a focus on traditional markets such as Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia and Western Europe, while continuing to implement the "Viet Nam-Your Destination" campaign to attract high-end spenders.

Source: VNS


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