Tourism engine accelerates speed

15:22 | 14/02/2018 Culture & Tourism

(VEN) - In 2017, Vietnam welcomed 13 million foreign visitors, up 28 percent from 2016, earning total tourism revenues of more than VND500 trillion. Tourism income accounted for about seven percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

tourism engine accelerates speed
Trang An Landscape Complex in the northern province of Ninh Binh

Strong growth

The number of foreign visitors to Vietnam in 2016 and 2017 was almost 60 percent higher than 2015. Last year, Vietnam topped Asian countries and territories and ranked sixth in the world in terms of tourism growth. This pushed up Vietnam eight levels on the tourism competitiveness index.

Vietnam has impressed foreign visitors with its picturesque landscapes, hospitable people and good food. “If Vietnam continues with its current rate of growth, it will catch up with Indonesia, and the country needs to accelerate its growth if it is to catch up with the top-three ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand,” said Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Nguyen Ngoc Thien.

Hoang Nhan Chinh, head of the Secretariat of the Tourism Advisory Board, said this is a proud achievement of Vietnam’s tourism industry, and a spectacular breakthrough in 2016 and 2017 after a sharp decline in previous years.

General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), Nguyen Van Tuan, said Politburo Resolution 08-NQ/TW on tourism development provides guidelines to boost Vietnam’s tourism industry. At the same time it contributes to easing bottlenecks in tourism promotion fund establishment, investment in key areas and remote areas, human resources development, planning, promotion, transformation of fees into service prices, and policies on electricity prices, land use tax, land rent, and immigration procedures.

The strong growth in the number of foreign visitors, as economists have said, not only augurs a brighter future for the tourism industry but also opens up investment opportunities in the Vietnamese tourist real estate sector. In recent years, many domestic and foreign businesses have invested in a series of projects in the country’s tourist centers including Nha Trang, Da Nang and Phu Quoc, attracting such world-leading brands as CBRE, Savills, Melia Hotels International, Accor, and Marriott.

Spearhead sector

Many policies and activities contributed to Vietnam’s tourism growth in 2017, apart from Resolution 08-NQ/TW. These include electronic visas to visitors from some countries, extension of visa exemption for visitors from five Western European countries (the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain), and tourism promotion activities abroad. Travel companies say the visa exemption policy has increased the number of European visitors to Vietnam by 20-30 percent per year.

Vu The Binh, Deputy Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said Western Europe is a very important tourist market for many countries, especially Vietnam. “We shouldn’t expect a skyrocketing rise in the number of Western European visitors, but a growth of only one to two percent could leverage growth in the number of visitors from other markets. Therefore, Vietnam’s continued visa exemption for visitors from the five major Western European countries will be a major catalyst for Vietnam’s tourism,” he said.

The Communist Party and the State are interested in tourism development and have praised many localities for their tourism development efforts.

From now to 2020, Vietnam’s tourism industry will become a spearhead economic sector to function as a driving force for the country’s socioeconomic development. It plans to professionalize operations, standardize and modernize infrastructure and material facilities, improve service quality, develop branding, and diversify and create tourist offerings comparable to those of other countries in the region.

By 2020, the sector is expected to serve 17-20 million foreign visitors and 82 million domestic guests with total revenues of an estimated US$35 billion, accounting for more than 10 percent of the country’s GDP. The sector also targets tourism-based export revenues of US$20 billion and providing four million jobs, including 1.6 million direct jobs by 2020. Its goal to 2030 is to play a major role in promoting the development of other industries.

VNAT General Director, Nguyen Van Tuan, said tourism promotion will continue to be a key task of the tourism industry. The sector will work to ensure safe, green and friendly destinations to attract more visitors and increase visitor trust.

Thanh Tam