Tourism industry prepares for WTO integration, specialisation services Vietnam
Vietnam's tourism sector is preparing to develop its services globally with the country on the brink of entering the WTO. Thoi bao Kinh te Vietnam (Vietnam Economic Times) speaks to tourism experts about preparations for integration.
Head of the National Administration of Tourism's Travel Department Vu The Binh: Improving the quality of tourism services
The quality of tourism services has made a great leap forward following the positive changes stipulated in the Tourism Ordinance, Decree 27/CP and Circular 04. However, a draft decree is being written as part of greater efforts to boost tourism.
The draft decree regulates that leaders of travel agencies must be knowledgeable and experienced in their field, as tourism activities are closely related to national culture, law and security and the safety of tourists.
Inbound and outbound international tourism will be separated to boost specialisation in the industry. Business conditions, including the rights and responsibilities of international tourism companies, differ between the two branches.
Insurance for tourists is clearly stipulated, which is significant for Vietnamese tourism to integrate into the international and regional tourism industry. International tourism companies must buy insurance for all outbound tourists.
Deputy director of Ha Noi Tourism College Nguyen Van Dinh: Training human resources for integration
Vietnamese tourism needs to recruit and train around 100,000 workers in the next five years.
Current tourism-related human resources do not meet the requirements for development. Re-training employees is, therefore, an important task for the industry.
Thirty universities and 50 colleges and vocational schools around the country now have tourism faculties. They are, however, facing a number of difficulties, including a shortage of qualified teachers and outdated facilities.
A number of measures should be adopted to solve the problems. All tourism companies must train their employees and spend part of their budgets on human resources.
Tourism colleges and schools must be properly allocated all over the country. On a larger scale, international co-operation in tourism training should be enhanced under Governmental support.
Director of Ha Noi Heritage Hotel Tran Ngoc Son: The demand for hotels will be high
Vietnamese tourism still has a great demand for high-ranking hotels to accommodate participants of international conferences hosted by the country.
Whenever Vietnam hosts an international event such as the ASEM or APEC, tourism companies find it difficult to arrange hotels for visitors in big cities.
The shortage of qualified hotels has had a negative impact on service quality.
Domestic hotels are generally small in size and are not attractive to visitors in terms of room arrangement and interior decoration.
In the future, the Government needs to continuously use its budget to support the development of tourist infrastructure at national tourism sites and other sites of significance.
Capital from the private sector must also be mobilised to invest in small and medium-sized tourism sites, to develop a system of high-ranking hotels and restaurants in big cities.
Finally, dissemination and promotion of Vietnamese tourism are also a must in preparation for the country's accession to the WTO.
Director of Kim Lien Tourism and Hotel Company Phan Duc Man: Enterprises need three factors to integrate into the world market
Kim Lien Tourism and Hotel Company is doing business in the three key areas of travel, hotels and food and drink services. We ourselves have established our position in the international tourism market.
In my opinion, if tourism enterprises want to integrate into the world market, they will have to ensure basic factors. They will have to consolidate and develop their market by all means and clearly-classify where traditional markets are and where potential markets are and where the company can distribute its services. One of the Kim Lien Company's biggest tourism markets is the Chinese market.
The company has been developing tourism in China since 2004 and has so far received about 14,000 visitors. The company has also paid attention to developing tourism in the Southeast Asia region and Europe. The company considers these areas a legal training ground where it can hone its competitive edge.
We have expanded our restaurant system and concentrated on training and improving our staff members' knowledge of professional skills, foreign languages, the market, laws and management. We have also focused on developing our trademark and raising the quality of our products.
Besides these factors, I want to stress that if Vietnam's tourism wants to integrate internationally, it needs to establish national-sized products to attract tourists from the region as well as the rest of the world to return to the country.
Director of the Vietnam Administration of Tourism's Tourism Promotion Department Pham Huu Minh: Strong investment in tourism promotion
We must admit the fact that we have been left far behind our neighbouring countries as far as tourism promotion is concerned.
The shortcomings are found in discrepancies between the sizes of organisations and their assigned tasks. We have no representative offices in foreign countries.
Work on studying the market and defining strategies and tactics to penetrate and exploit new markets is only beginning. Co-operation between the Government and enterprises, between Government agencies and vocational associations, between central authorities and localities, and between the tourism sector and other relevant sectors has not yet been achieved.
Ha Noi Tourism Department statistics show that expenditure on tourism promotion in the 2001-05 period was VND1,250 per visitor in Hanoi, while it was nearly VND2,000 per tourist in HCM City.
The State budget for tourism promotion in 2005 was VND15.6bil - enough for running only nine half-page advertisements in the USA Today.
The tourism sector has recently submitted to the Prime Minister a national action programme on tourism in the 2006-10 period. The programme aims to sustainably develop tourism, receiving 25mil domestic tourists and 6mil international tourists by 2010 with a revenue of US$4.5-5bil.
Deputy Director of the Vietnam Administration of Tourism's Tourism Development Study Institute Pham Trung Luong: Tourism policy needs to be national
When Vietnam becomes an official member of the WTO, the tourism sector will gain many advantages.
We will develop tourism services in markets where we are facing problems with legal issues and procedures to increase the number of international tourists to Vietnam.
This will create good conditions for foreign investors to pour capital into Vietnam. The service issues relating to tourism such as banking and transportation will be improved, meeting tourists' demand.
However, many challenges will also emerge.
Vietnam enterprises' competitive capacity is extremely low in investment, human resources and tourism technology. Therefore, when foreign investors enter Vietnam, domestic investors will face strong competition.
We will have to pay for our tattered and unplanned investments. When foreign travel firms come to the country, will domestic travel enterprises meet tourists' demand and keep their foothold in the market intact?
In my opinion, although our policies have opened up the market, increasing the number of tourists and raising tourism products' competitive capacity, these legal documents remain incompatible.
The country's tourism prices will not be as low and able to compete with other countries if our policy system is not consistent to support the whole sector.
(Source: Viet Nam News)
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