Vietnam tourism promotion unable to rely only on State budget
Vietnam tourism promotion, talking with reporters on the fringe of a conference on seeking measures for tourist development, Hoang Tuan Anh, head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism said it’s high time to change our mind on tourism promotion, as we are “unable to rely on the State budget but need contributions of all resources from localities and businesses.”
What’s your objective assessment of the Vietnamese tourism’s real situation now?
A: Only for a short period of time, the tourism sector of Vietnam made concerted efforts to improve itself, from a low-ranking country in terms of the number of international arrivals, Vietnam has climbed to the fifth rank. If in 1994, the number of international arrivals in the country reached one million for the first time, in 2006, the number rose to 3.6 million.
The Vietnam tourism sector has overcome challenges and mobilised all sources to make the best use of advantages, potential, natural landscapes and historical and cultural sites to boost the economic development and ensure security and social safety, contributing to national development. The sector has also contributed to restructuring the economy, creating jobs and eliminating hunger and alleviating poverty, changing the face of many localities and creating conditions for international exchange and co-operation, while raising Vietnam’s position in the international arena.
I think that these are special efforts made by the whole sector because the Vietnamese tourist industry is only in the first period of development and there still remain many shortcomings such as weak financial capability, poor human resources, lack of experience, poor tourist products and unprofessional promotion. Additionally infrastructure, including accommodation and routes (air, sea and land) have not matched the pace of development.
Do these shortcomings hold challenges for the Vietnam tourism sector, particularly in the context of international competition?
A: That’s right. I think the sector is facing strong pressure and fierce competition in the coming period. The shortcomings of the sector are challenges to the tourism of Vietnamese tourism industry. However, these shortcomings are being gradually dealt with.
Could you please explain in a specific way?
A: Our viewpoint is that we cannot impose “destinations” on tourists, particularly as tourists have many options of various destinations. Clearly, fierce competition requires us to improve tourism products and service quality. To make it come true, in my opinion, we need to focus on solving five following basic issues:
Firstly, it is necessary to enhance co-operation between the Vietnam tourism industry with other industries and ministries through specific programmes. The tourism sector is impossible to develop when the infrastructure is poor. Secondly, we need to map out and build international-standard resorts and “trademark” regions for tourism. In the past times, some luxury resorts have been built, but are still few in number, so are yet to meet the needs of tourists.
Thirdly, it is important to invest more money in tourism infrastructure. For the past five years, the State has invested over VND 4,000 billion to develop tourism infrastructure in localities but this amount of money is yet to meet the demand of the development. Fourthly, training of human resources for the sector should be renovated. There is still no tourism university in the country. Fifthly, the work to promote tourism need be boosted. This work cannot rely only on State budget alone but needs contribution from other sources such as localities and businesses.
The tourism sector has set a target to attract six million international tourists by 2010 with earnings of US $6 billion while the number of international arrivals in our neighbouring countries has already reached more than 15 million with earnings of over US $20 billion. So why does Vietnam still lag behind?
A: In fact, to catch up with regional countries in terms of the number of international arrivals is really difficult. I think that they have international-standard resorts with good trademarks; therefore, their competitive advantages are much higher than Vietnam. In addition, their tourist provisions “are centuries ahead of Vietnam.”
However, a quick increase in quantity risks unsustainable development while in fact we need measures to promote sustainable development. For example, it is vital to extend international tourists’ stay in Vietnam, increase their spending when they stay in the country and make high-quality products to make Vietnamese tourism more attractive to foreigners.
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