The tourism sector is called upon to develop a national tourism brand

Foreign tourists touch the culture of the ethnic community in the northern mountainous province of Sơn La. VNA/VNS photo

Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính on Wednesday urged the tourism sector to develop a national tourism brand and make Viet Nam a “safe, friendly, attractive, humane, hospitable and convenient destination”.

He was speaking while presiding over a national teleconference on the rapid and sustainable development of Vietnam’s tourism.

He said that thanks to the participation of the entire political system, businesses, people and the cooperation of international friends, Vietnamese tourism has recovered and developed after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2022, total tourism revenue is estimated at VNĐ495 trillion (nearly US$20.5 billion), an increase of 2.75 times compared to 2021.

In the first 10 months of this year, Việt Nam welcomed 99 million domestic visitors and 10 million international tourists, surpassing the 2023 target of 8 million visitors.

Total tourism revenue in the 10 months reached VNĐ582.6 trillion.

The cabinet leader said Vietnam has advantages and opportunities for tourism development, citing favorable factors such as stable politics, security and order; synchronous infrastructure; majestic, beautiful, diverse and rich nature; rich and unique national cultural identities; and hospitable and creative local people. Việt Nam also maintains international relations and signs free trade agreements with many countries and major partners.

However, there are still many problems that make the number of visitors and income from tourism below expectations, for example tourism products are not really unique and do not meet the high quality market segment.

“We have not hosted international cultural activities related to world-recognized intangible and tangible heritage to promote and build a brand for domestic tourism,” the Prime Minister said.

Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Nguyễn Văn Hùng said international arrivals to Vietnam fell short of expectations as some of Vietnam’s traditional key tourism markets, which resumed operations late after the pandemic, have not fully regained growth.

Viet Nam faces difficulties in connecting and tapping into new and potential markets as we continue to maintain a slow pace in resuming international flights, he said.

He said the government should approve short-term visa waivers for tourists from a number of large-scale, high-potential markets such as China and India to boost tourism demand, especially in the low season.

The minister proposed a unilateral extension of the visa exemption for citizens of countries with a higher level of development than Vietnam and high spending on tourism such as Australia, Canada, the USA and the rest of the European Union countries.

He also suggested considering issuing visas at border posts based on on-site staff approval for international tourists and piloting long-term visas of three to five years to attract high-end tourists and retirees.

Lê Hồng Hà, general manager of the national carrier Vietnam Airlines, said that after the pandemic, the growth of air transport in Vietnam is still at a low level.

By the end of May 2023, the international air transport market had recovered 97 percent compared to its pre-COVID-19 growth rate. The growth rate in Asia Pacific was 73 percent, while Vietnam maintained 72 percent.

To reach the target of 50 million international visitors by 2030, there is a lot of work to be done in the next seven years, he said, and suggested updating the National Tourism Development Strategy.

“We need to take into account Vietnam’s competitiveness compared to other destinations in the region to build an appropriate growth rate. We need to determine the country’s competitive advantages to make Viet Nam a regional destination,” he said.

Vũ Thế Bình, president of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said that Vietnam lacks tourism cooperation between ministries, enterprises and regions.

During COVID-19, we created great connections between types of tourism and opened up markets. Then everyone shared experience, combined with each other, connected each product to create a development direction. Even when COVID-19 wreaked its greatest havoc, the travel industry still existed. But when COVID-19 ended, those efforts and connections seemed to disappear. Unhealthy competition and price gouging are back, he said.

Prime Minister Chin emphasized the direction of tourism development in the future, which focuses on rapid and sustainable growth. Tourism should create motivation to promote the development of other industries and areas, while the formation of a domestic and international tourism value chain is necessary.

The rapid and sustainable development of Vietnam’s tourism should go hand in hand with open institutions, smooth infrastructure and smart management, he said.

He urged the sector to create a unique Vietnamese tourism brand based on human resources, nature and historical cultural traditions, while enhancing professionalism and developing the sector extensively and intensively. VNS

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