Drawing tourists

HA NOI — Viet Nam needs to develop a modern tourism sector, based on its advantages in nature, culture, geography, politics and people, said Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan.

Vietnamese tourism must become a key Southeast Asian, Asian and global destination, he said, addressing the 50th anniversary of the country’s industry held in Ha Noi yesterday.

To turn tourism into a key sector, attracting 10-15 million international visitors and 60 million domestic tourists a year, a 10-year strategy to develop Viet Nam tourism by 2020 must rapidly be completed, he said.

In the short term, the senior Government official suggested tourism leaders evaluate the most attractive tourism sites across the country based on international standards before upgrading them to meet minimum worldwide criteria.

Former director of the Viet Nam Administration of Tourism Do Quang Trung also said in the indispensable trend towards global integration, Viet Nam tourism needed to make clear its goals and leverage to focus resources on developing its cultural and ecological tourism.

To sustain its development, the industry needed to diversify and improve the quality of its products, give advertising a boost and work on more detailed tasks, said Trung.

Fifty years of tourism

Despite its start half a century ago, Vietnamese tourism only experienced real development from 1978 when the Viet Nam Administration of Tourism (VNAT) was established.

VNAT director Nguyen Van Tuan said the number of international visitors Viet Nam received had increased from 250,000 in 1990 to more than 4 million in 2009. The number of domestic tourists also witnessed a sharp rise from 1 million two decades ago to 25 million last year.

Income from tourism reached VND70 trillion (US$3.7 billion) in 2009, compared to VND1,35 trillion in 1990.

After the global economic slowdown last year, the Vietnamese tourism sector received 2.5 million foreign visitors, 17 million domestic tourists in the first six months of this year, earning revenue of about VND45 trillion ($2.4 billion).

The industry now contributed to about 5 per cent of GDP but its actual contribution to the society was far greater, said Tuan.

“Wherever tourism is developed, the environment has improved and local people have better living standards,” he said.

The sector now generates more than 400,000 jobs and employs 700,000 people in related services.

“Tourism has created income to restore heritage sites, revive traditional festivals and craft villages, and helped other industries to develop,” said Tuan.

Viet Nam tourism now ranks 5th among ASEAN countries and 40th in the world.

Tourism policies and mechanisms had been constantly reviewed in the past 50 years, creating a favourable environment for the industry to thrive, he said.

From the Tourism Ordinance issued in 1999, the Tourism Law was passed by the National Assembly in 2005, which meant the importance of the industry was underlined by an array of directions, policies and institutions, he said.

VNAT deputy director Nguyen Manh Cuong said Viet Nam tourism had integrated internationally in both bilateral and multilateral frameworks.

The country had signed 43 international tourism treaties with countries in the region and globally, many of which were Viet Nam’s key markets, such as China, South Korea, Japan, ASEAN, France, Spain, Italy and India, he said.

Vietnamese enterprises had entered partnerships with more than 1,000 travel agencies in over 60 countries and territories.

By the end of 2009, there were nearly 800 Vietnamese travel companies operating at an international level, including about 70 State-owned enterprises, and more than 10,000 others providing inbound tours. —VNS

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