Tourism sector eyes sustainable growth
15:46 | 16/05/2019

VGP – The tourism sector targets to contribute 10% of GDP by 2020, becoming a spearhead economic sector. However, the sector is struggling against difficulties to develop in a sustainable manner.

Illustration photo

Last year, the sector expanded nearly 20% and received 15.5 million international guests. 

However, the tourism sector has yet tapped potentials and advantages. It is an unsolved question for Viet Nam to fulfill the goal to convert the tourism industry into a spearhead sector. 

Lost in both quantity and quality

Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism Le Quang Tung said that Viet Nam ranked 32nd in natural resources and cultural attractions with eight UNESCO-recognized world heritages. However, Vietnamese tourism sector has yet met its potentials and advantages. 

Even though the tourism sector expanded nearly 20% in 2018 and handled 15.5 million international guests. The figures were much lower than that of regional countries. Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia welcomed 35 million, 25 million, 18.5 million and 15.8 million. 

In addition, in Viet Nam, average spending of international guests was also lower than that in Thailand and Singapore. 

Tourism modals with high spending ability namely golf, meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) have yet been able to compete with regional peers. 

Since 2015, the proportions of high spending markets have dropped. Specifically, the number of American guests fell from 7.6% to only 5.8%. European tourists decreased from 14.6% to 13.1%. 

Moreover, tourism quality remained a problem when the percentage of return guests was only 10-40% while the figures were 80% in Thailand, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). 

A representative from Amica Travel said that the company has suspended operation in Sapa and Ha Long bay due to overcrowding.  

In Viet Nam, attractive tourism destinations have been over-exploited, causing bad impression for visitors. 

Hence, the expert proposed the tourism sector transform development strategy which relies on quality instead of number; raise proportion of tourism sector’s contribution to GDP; protect the environment; and develop the tourism sector in a sustainable manner. 

Removing “knots”

At a workshop themed “Selective attraction of tourism markets with high spending capabilities and long stay to Viet Nam,” which was held in early May, a large number of problems were put on the table for discussion. 

Tourism enterprises blamed visa regulations for low attraction. Mr. Nguyen Thi Huyen, General Director of Vietrantour said that in the modal of visa arrival at border gates, foreign tourists have to finalize visa regulations before and bring dossiers to the border gates. Meanwhile, Thailand has already provided visa at border gates for citizens of 20 foreign countries. With photos, passports, air tickets and resident confirmation, international guests will get visa permission without conducting any procedure before. 

Ms. Huyen also assessed that besides expansion of visa exemption, the extension of visa deadline from 15 to 30 days for tourists from developed countries including Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands would encourage them to stay longer in Viet Nam and spend more, Mr. Kenneth Atkinson, Thornton Viet Nam President said. 

Besides visa issue, other experts blamed the lack of attractive and unique tourism products for enabling foreign tourists to stay longer and spend more in Viet Nam. 

So far, the tourism industry is struggling against the development direction on culture or maritime tourism. Practically, Viet Nam has boasted cultural destinations. Hence, tourists only come one time. 

However, if Viet Nam focuses on maritime tourism, tourists will come back to enjoy new experience.   

Mr. Truong Tan Son from Saigontourist, Vietnamese tourism products have yet made clear purposes for resort, entertainment, or shopping. So far, Viet Nam has yet promoted national trademarklike the RoK with ginseng, the  EU with shopping, and Cuba with cigar.

In addition, despite many improvements, there are a lot of problems in tourism management such as price hikes, hawkers, and cheating. 

Moreover, tourism manpower remains a problem. For example, HCMC accounts for about 70% of the total number of foreign guests, the proportion of trained workers meets only 60% of demand. 

The city suffers from not only number of tourism manpower also quality when the contingent of travel guides lack of techniques, foreign languages, and skills. 

Spearhead economic sector

Under the Political Bureau’s Resolution 08-NQ/TW, dated January 16, 2017, the tourism sector targets to attract 17-20 million foreign guests, 82 domestic visitors, contribute over 10% of GDP, earn US$ 35 billion of turnover by 2020. By 2030, the tourism sector will become a spearhead economic sector. 

To realize the goals, Vice Chairman of the Viet Nam Tourism Association (VTA) Vu The Binh proposed the Government expand visa policy; encourage tourism linkages among different markets and enterprises; develop tourism sector; develop green tourism to protect the environment; encourage ecotourism, community tourism, infrastructure upgrading, space opening. 

In addition, Chairman Binh recommended opening of tourism promotion representative offices by private resources in order to ensure tourism promotion quality and efficiency./. 

By Kim Anh 


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