Revving Up Vietnam’s Tourism
Published: 03/08/2010 by pat
After seeing a 10.9 percent reduction in foreign arrivals to the country in 2009 compared to the previous year, Vietnam recognizes the need for added efforts to perk up its tourism industry beginning 2010. The decrease is said to have been caused by a chain of interrelated factors, all summing up to poor tourism management. A country with vast coastal areas, over 70 percent of Vietnam’s tourist hotspots are situated along its shorelines. But apart from that, a larger part of the country is adorned with beautiful landscapes and historical destinations holding a rich, unique culture which could be more of an attraction in itself.
As 80 percent of international tourists include the beaches in the tour packages they purchase, many experts have expressed their growing concern over the poor implementation of tourism standards along the shorelines, allowing investing companies to carelessly block the beaches with resorts and pollute the areas. But then, in any tourism industry, the main benefits stem from the income derived from other services. Whatever is made from hotel rents and resorts isn’t much of a contribution to the economy’s growth.
Analysts criticize owners for inconsiderately placing their resorts too close to the shorelines, fencing Vietnam’s lovely beaches and leaving little space for further developments. The same resorts and hotels seem to find the beaches as very convenient and suitable dumping grounds for their untreated waste resulting for the waters now greatly threatened with pollution. Tons of garbage discharged into the sea daily is evident.
On the other hand, tourism firms claim that there is too little support from concerned agencies in assisting them to step up promotions of tourism products and services in the coastal regions. Oddly enough, for a country with rich and diverse culture, Vietnam’s souvenir shops have long been importing their souvenir products from China and Thailand. On top of that, Opera Houses lack regular programs to serve the tourists. Experts believe that stepping up efforts on promoting traditional entertainment to foreign tourists is an important move for the country’s interesting culture to be recognized.
Foreigners do not come to Vietnam purely for relaxation and entertainment, studying newer cultures mostly play an essential role in their every trip. Though several tours present folk performances to international tourists, the country’s culture have not been properly reflected in these entertainment programs along with lack of information and translation. Also, despite having around 500 traditional festivals held nationwide every year, such failed to attract foreign tourists due to low quality services.
For Vietnam’s culture to be better appreciated, a combination of well-presented traditional performances and better services should be promoted creatively.
Even though the number of visitors essentially presents a picture of the tourism industry’s progress, the tourists’ satisfaction on their every visit is just as important. Vu The Binh from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) is looking into a nationwide set of standards to rate tourism services expected to be published in the second quarter of this year apart from the series of tourism promotion programs that will take place locally and internationally during the first quarter. According to him, such standards are necessary to promote better tourism as they will help ensure higher service quality. Many have been awaiting for the policy with great enthusiasm as it would greatly maintain and improve the country’s position as a popular tourist destination.
VNAT also intends to extend the national tourism stimulus program “Impressive Vietnam” this year, which was initially scheduled to end in 2009. Such is done to continue speeding up the recovery of the downturn-hit tourism industry of the country. Compared to the VND25 billion ($1.35 million) budget in 2009, the national tourism authority anticipates spending at least VND40 billion (US$2.17 million) for tourism promotion activities at home and abroad this year. To ensure profits would be reaped from such investment, the campaigns will be operated by a professional organization and capable staff.
The government also needs to pay more attention to the complicated procedures and unhealthy competition among travel agencies along the 1,450- kilometre East West Economic Corridor (EWEC). The EWEC is a network of roads and infrastructure built to spur tourism and commercial investment through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The constant decrease of travel package prices among the competing travel agencies would yield negative effects in the near future and could even lead to a halt of operations by majority, if not all, travel firms. As a chain effect, such reduction of prices could also result to lower quality services which could impact the prestige of local tourism firms. Apart from the lack of rest stops along the 300- kilometer stretch of the EWEC between the Lao Bao Border Gate and Da Nang and Hoi An, immigration procedures for travellers in caravan tours in the border gates need to be simplified as well.
With the government’s responses to perk up the slumping tourism industry, the VNAT expects the country to welcome 4.5 to 4.6 million foreign tourists this year, an estimate of 18 to 21 percent higher than in 2009. There is indeed tough competition with its neighbours, but Vietnam has a greater chance of putting a foot forward with its wonderful culture, interesting history, maintained positive reputation of being a safe destination, friendly people and the growing development stage. This year would be a wonderful time to tap into other markets and strongly implement the government’s designed programs to effectively lure more foreign travellers. The positive forecasts are a good sign that Vietnam’s tourism sector will welcome a breath of new life in the coming months of 2010.
Tourism in Vietnam
Vietnam's attractive,more effort's surely welcome
D.Riddel from Canada - 04/18/2010 02:57:10
Been to Vietnam, just once though. I have to agree on the quite higher cost to travel to their country versus neighboring places. Yet, I must say the extra money I’ve put out is sure worth it. Vietnam has a lot of wonderful places to see and lots of interesting things to do. You learn so much as you go from one tourist spot to another, from one city to the next. I’ve been to the beaches as well. Yeah, they could be overcrowded, but generally, they’re still beautiful and breathtaking! The people are friendly and the food is great everywhere. But if there are efforts to improve its tourism, it would surely be a big plus. And I definitely would visit again!