16:07 | 31/05/2015 Society
(VEN) - During a recent interview, Ha Van Sieu – Deputy General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism – told Vietnam Economic News’ Hoa Quynh that last year, Vietnam welcomed 7.8 million international visitors, including 4.4 million to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). This figure shows that Ho Chi Minh City is asserting its leading role in the national tourism sector.
River routes in Ho Chi Minh City prove popular with tourists
What’s your evaluation of the city’s current tourism development?
Domestic tourism has really advanced since the implementation of the open-door policy in the 1990s. Of course, the city’s tourism sector has always led the way in terms of scale, persity, and professionalism of services. Last year, the city welcomed more than 50 percent, or 4.4 out of 7.8 million foreign visitors, and 17.6 out of 38.5 million domestic tourists. It recorded VND86 trillion in total tourism revenue last year, accounting for 37 percent of the country’s total.
Ho Chi Minh City is also a great home to domestic and international travel agencies including Saigontourist, Peace Tour, Vietravel and Benthanh Tourist. It is a muster point for visitors coming and going to other locations nationwide. It also leads the country in terms of high-class accommodation and entertainment services, assuming the leading role in the national tourism sector.
What are the city’s limitations in its central role connecting tourist destinations in the southern provinces?
The city has acted as an excellent connecting point for satellite destinations including Vung Tau, Con Dao, Phu Quoc, Can Tho, Ca Mau, Tien Giang, Vinh Long, Dong Thap, An Giang, Ben Tre, Binh Thuan, and Khanh Hoa.
In fact, the city’s tourism sector has helped neighboring and satellite destinations to improve their travel services while still maintaining their local unique identities. The city’s tourism sector is striving for sustainable development based on the promotion potential of all neighboring and satellite destinations, however, so far it has failed to get positive results.
What solutions have been adopted to overcome these limitations?
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism has always regarded the city as a focal point when implementing its regional tourism development programs. In addition, it has also asked the city to implement tourism development action plans to support provinces in the Mekong Delta and the Southeast, including tourism product development and investment, tourism service training, human resource development and tourism promotion based on local unique values. Over the past decade, the city and the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism have successfully co-organized international travel expos, attracting many participants from the surrounding provinces.
The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism has been formally re-established recently and will give the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee a consultancy role in local tourism development, bringing it closer to global standards.
What opportunities and challenges are facing the city in the context of in-depth international integration, especially in light of the ASEAN Economic Community due to be implemented at the end of this year?
The most obvious opportunity for the city is to increase its attraction of tourists and enhance its brand positioning in the ASEAN region through the promotion of its tourism potential and quality tourism products. Meanwhile, the biggest challenge is how to compete with others while integrating into the global tourism supply chain, particularly in terms of tourism infrastructure, human resources, and services.
What should the city do to overcome these challenges?
There are various solutions for the city, but what is most important is that the city should evaluate its weaknesses and resolve them systematically. Moreover, it may need substantial support from industries, agencies, the business community, and citizens to make itself a friendly city in the eyes of tourists.
In addition, the city should promote its administrative reform process and implement tourism infrastructure, product promotion and human resource development as well as investment programs if it is to become a major tourist center in the country and ASEAN region.