Development of Vietnamese tourism industry
In the first quarter of 2006, Vietnam has attracted more than one million international tourists. Vietnam is frequently viewed as a friendly and safe destination and ranked as one of the most attractive destinations in the world over the next decade. Vietnamese tourism has gradually affirmed its role as a leading economic power.
After the 1997 regional economic crisis, despite being affected by pandemics, natural disasters and conflicts in regions of the world, the Vietnamese tourism industry is entering a strong development period. Over the past 15 years, the number of tourists has increased by 20% each year on average. The number of international tourists to Vietnam has increased 11 fold, from 250,000 in 1990 to 3.4 million in 2005. The tourism industry has earned more than VND 30 billion, exceeding the plan.
Socio-economic efficiency of the tourism activities has contributed to eliminating hunger and alleviating poverty, improving living standards and enriching the society. The development of tourism has helped change the face of urban and rural areas. People’s living standards have been much improved, especially in tourist centres such as Sapa, Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba island, Sam Son beach, Cua Lo beach, the ancient city of Hue, provinces of Quang Nam, Khanh Hoa, Binh Thuan and Ba Ria – Vung Tau and some Cuu Long river delta provinces.
The tourism industry has created capability of consuming goods and services, boosting other industries to develop, restoring many traditional festivals and craft villages, boosting economic restructuring of the whole country and each locality, expanding exchange among regions and with foreign countries, and ensuring security, national defence and social order.
Tourism activities have created jobs for more than 234,000 direct employees and about 510,000 indirect employees. Through tourism, many historical and cultural sites have been preserved.
Directed by the government, the tourism industry has co-ordinated with relevant ministries and bodies and localities to build and complete major mechanisms and policies on tourism such as Tourism Ordinance, Tourism Law and national action plan on tourism. The Tourism Law took effect in January 2006 and is the most important legal document that adjusts tourism activities.
So far, there have been more than 6,000 institutions that operate in the accommodation business nationwide with more than 130,000 rooms, including 18 five-star hotels, 48 four-star hotels and 300 international tourist companies. Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Quang Ninh, Da Nang and Haiphong have the most international tourist companies.
Re-organisation and renovation of state-owned travel businesses have been improved. More than 100 state-owned travel businesses have been equitised, creating good conditions for them to operate more effectively.
For the past five years, the government has funded VND 2,146 billion to help improve tourism infrastructure in key tourism centres with 358 projects in 58 provinces and centrally-run cities. The tourism industry has also attracted 190 foreign direct investment projects with a total registered capital of US $4.64 billion in 29 provinces and cities.
Vietnam has exempted visas for citizens from Japan, the Republic of Korea and some Nordic countries. Visas granting has been diversified, for example, visas are granted to tourists at Vietnamese embassies abroad, and at international border gates for those who stay in Vietnam with a maximum of 15 days. This is one of important factors for the growth of the tourism industry in the recent period
The tourism industry has attached importance to organising many road, river and sea tours, linking places of interest and resorts in localities with one another. Many new tours such as trekking, mountain climbing, sea diving, cave exploration, and travelling trans-Vietnam by bicycle, motorbike and car.
In recent years, particularly in early 2006, Vietnam has attracted thousands of international tourists travelling by sea on tens of cruise ships that dock Ha Long, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Vung Tau, Ho Chi Minh City and Phu Quoc ports.
Together with stimulating and solving difficulties, the tourism sector and localities have organised many travel events successfully such as Ha Long, Dien Bien Phu, Nghe An and Quang Nam Travel Years; along with festivals throughout the country. These programmes have made great contribution to promoting the image of Vietnam tourism to the world.