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Tourism industry slow to recover

2009-11-10 (GMT + 7)

The number of foreign tourists to Viet Nam has risen slightly in the last two months, compared to the same period last year.

Vietnam received about 294,000 foreign visitors in September, an increase of 2.7 per cent compared to the same period last year but a fall of 6.4 per cent against August, according to the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism.

The figures in July and August dropped 18.7 per cent and 17.7 per cent, respectively, compared to the same period last year, reports the Nguoi Lao Dong (The Labourer).

In other countries in the region such as Singapore and Malaysia, tourism markets improved significantly starting from July, with room occupancy standing at 70-75 per cent at most hotels.

In Thailand, where the tourism market was badly affected by the global downturn and local political instability, travellers were hard to spot at hotels in Phuket over the weekend.

Although Viet Nam has carried out tourism promotions, industry analysts described them as uninteresting and unprofessional.

Travellers' top priorities are unique places and services, and not room rates and tour discounts, they said.

Do Cam Tho of the Institute for Tourism Research and Development said many localities had organised festivals in an effort to lure more visitors but they lacked alluring characteristics.

Festivals in other countries such as the Korean Ginseng Festival, Beaujolais Wine Festival in France and Arugungu Fishing Festival in Nigeria attract thousands of foreign visitors each year, thanks to good organisation and promotion.

With a long coastline and many beautiful beaches, the country has rich potential to develop tourism. But the lack of professionalism of the industry as well as poor tourism services, promotion, marketing and workforce have restrained the sector's development, experts have said.

The National Tourism Administration said tourism products and services as well as human resources must be improved.

Thibault Paquin, general director of Accor Asia, said Viet Nam could receive 6 million foreign tourists by 2012 if Viet Nam developed eco-tourism services, promoted local culture and cuisine, and built more hotels in secondary cities and international airports.

Antoine Sirot, head of Ethical Consultant, said the country should develop tourism services to attract more local travellers as well.

Source: VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

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