10:01 | 05/06/2015 Society
Vietnam should do more to encourage domestic tourism to counter the ongoing and damaging decrease in the number of foreign visitors, according to one of the country’s top tourism officials.
Nguyen Van Tuan, Head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), said that impressive increases have been seen in number of Vietnamese tourists who decide to explore their home country rather than travel abroad, but suggested that more services could be offered to boost this number even more.
In the first four months of this year, the sector served 25 million domestic travellers, up 10 percent over the same period last year, he noted, presenting a golden opportunity for the tourism sector.
However, in peak seasons and long holidays, tourism destinations and resorts have been quick to become overloaded across the country, leading to a rise in cost and a decline in service quality, he noted.
Some localities still managed to provide for visitors, including the central city of Da Nang , where local households are encouraged to serve tourists and allow them to use their private toilets to make visitors feel at home. Neighbouring Hoi An has also maintained a friendly tourism environment despite high number of visitors, said Tuan.
Meanwhile, on Ly Son Island in the central province of Quang Ngai , where services for tourists have been limited, locals have invited visitors to stay in their homes for free.
Tuan also pointed out that domestic tours are facing fierce competition from economical tours abroad, especially to some ASEAN countries.
According to the Vietnam Association of Tourism, the number of Vietnamese people travelling abroad rises about 10 percent every year, with most going to China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and western Europe, besides ASEAN countries.
Attractive prices and good services provided by the tours make them extremely competitive, argued Tuan, noting that a tour to Japan currently costs 20 million VND (920 USD), while a five-day trip to the RoK only costs 16 million USD (760 USD). Sometimes, a five-day trip to Thailand can cost under 5 million VND (230 USD), even lower than Vietnam Airlines’ two-way air fare on the Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City route, he said.
Nguyen Quy Phuong, head of VNAT’s Travel Department, said that a domestic tourism promotion programme, which was launched in 2014 when the number of foreign visitors first dropped sharply following a high period of tensions in the wake of China’s illegal deployment of an oil rig in Vietnam’s waters, has seen active response from travel agencies.
Thousands of new tourism products and tours have been introduced to travellers since then, offering perse choices to explore the beauty across the country.
Last year, the domestic tourism served over 35 million Vietnamese travellers, exceeding its set target. This year, the sector is expected to welcome 37.5 million tourists, said Phuong./.