16:30 | 10/04/2017 Society
(VEN) - Improving tourism cooperation will contribute to increasing bilateral trade, said Indian Ambassador to Vietnam Parvathaneni Harish at a Vietnamese-Indian tourism cooperation conference held on March 7 in Hanoi.
Vietnam and India signed a government-level tourism cooperation agreement in 2001. Tourism has been a priority in recent discussions between the two countries’ leaders. According to the Vietnam Tourism Development Strategy to 2020, with a vision to 2030, development of tourist markets is an urgent task and attracting visitors from new markets, including India, is a priority.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong, deputy director general of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), said Vietnamese-Indian tourism cooperation has seen strong development in recent years; there were many efficient bilateral tourism cooperation activities, including a series of tourism promotion activities that attracted many businesses.
The number of Indian visitors to Vietnam increased 3.5-fold or 344 percent, from over 16,000 in 2010 to more than 60,000 people in 2015, and 85,000 people in 2016. Indian visitors stayed an average eight days and spent an average of US$914 per capita per trip, considerably higher than that of visitors from other Asian countries. The number of Vietnamese visitors to India has also grown rapidly in recent years.
Despite the impressive growth, according to the Indian Ambassador, the number of Indian visitors to Vietnam accounts for only 1.7 percent of all Indian visitors to ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries. About 16 million Indian visitors travelled abroad annually, and the tourist exchange between the two countries remains disproportionate to its potential, he said. The two countries should try their best to improve those numbers, the ambassador said.
The number of Indians traveling abroad is expected to reach nearly 30 million in 2018, most of them from big cities with international air connections, such as New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
But Nguyen Cong Hoan, deputy director of Hanoi Redtours, said Indian visitors to Vietnam often transit through Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia, having to pay more than for package tours to other countries. This makes it difficult for Vietnamese tourism businesses to compete with their counterparts from other countries. In addition, the number of Indian restaurants in Vietnam is small, as is their scale.
He suggested that Vietnam launch direct flights from major cities to India’s big cities, strengthen tourism cooperation at different levels, improve food services, simplify visa procedures, and promote tourist information to attract more Indian visitors.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong, deputy general director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), said the VNAT will promote electronic marketing, strengthen cooperation with airlines and filmmakers to introduce Indian visitors to Vietnamese tourist offerings. It will also propose that visa procedures be improved to increase bilateral tourist exchange.