Hanoi seeks assistance for tourism infrastructure: Hanoi’s Vice Chairman

During the virtual conference led by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh today, industry experts emphasized the need for visa waivers and simplified procedures to stimulate the tourism sector.

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Hanoi has proposed the approval of the Tourism System Planning for 2021-2030 with a vision to 2045. The plan focuses on the development of three potential tourism destinations: Ba Vi National Tourism Area, Vietnam Ethnic Cultural Village – Dong Mo, and Huong Son Tourism Area.

The proposal was given by Vice Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee, Nguyen Manh Quyen, at a virtual conference chaired by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on reviving Vietnam’s tourism industry today.

Hanoi’s leaders attend the conference. Photo: VGP

Quyen stated that the Government and the Prime Minister had instructed relevant agencies to boost infrastructure and tourism investments in key tourist areas. This will enable the city to create precise legal frameworks and adopt special support mechanisms for tourism infrastructure development.

He also requested assistance from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in helping travel companies participate in domestic and international tourism events, and in seizing opportunities to collaborate with potential partners.

“An overall plan should be developed to promote tourism in the international market, with the ministry taking the lead. In recent years, Hanoi has collaborated with CNN network in tourism promotion. However, we believe that with nationwide implementation by the ministry, it will be even more cost-effective and efficient,” he stressed.

He predicted that the number of tourists visiting Hanoi would reach 24 million in 2023, representing a year-on-year increase of 27%. However, this figure is only 83% of the 2019 figure. He mentioned that last year, Hanoi was awarded the “World’s Leading Destination 2022” and “World’s Best Destination 2023” by international organizations. These accolades are advantageous in attracting more international guests to the capital city.

Travelers at the iconic Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi before Covid-19. Photo: Pham Anh Tu

Speaking at the conference, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh expressed hope that the discussion would provide both short-term and long-term solutions for the rapid and sustainable development of Vietnam’s tourism industry.

“The tourism industry has shown signs of recovery in the first 10 months, with approximately 10 million international arrivals and 99 million domestic visitors. However, international tourist arrivals were only 69% of the same period in 2019 (the pre-pandemic year). The tourism industry faces numerous challenges and unresolved problems that have persisted for many years,” he said.

Chinh emphasized the need for stakeholders, from experts to businesses and regulatory bodies, to address issues related to policies and resource mobilization for the development of infrastructure, brands, and human resources in the industry. This includes enhancing management capacity at the national and provincial levels, as well as in each enterprise, and strengthening coordination among various actors in the tourism industry.

At the conference, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung explained that the slow recovery of inbound tourism can be attributed to the gradual reopening of some traditional key markets. These markets have not yet regained their pre-pandemic growth rates. Furthermore, there is a trend among tourists to choose nearby destinations rather than distant ones, including those within Vietnam.

Hung stated that other factors such as inflation, exchange rate fluctuations, political conflicts, and reduced tourist spending have significantly impacted the number of international visitors to Vietnam in recent times.

Hung suggested exploring short-term visa exemptions for tourists from potential and large markets, such as China and India, to stimulate travel, especially during the low season.

He stressed, “In addition, countries with a higher level of development than Vietnam, whose tourists have high tourism expenditure, should be included in the list of unilateral visa exemptions. These countries include Australia, Canada, the US, and other European Union countries.”

He also proposed considering and piloting the issuance of visas at border gates based on on-the-spot personnel approval for international tourists. Pilot programs for long-term visas (3-5 years) could be implemented to attract high-end tourism segments and retired tourists.

“It is important to optimize and simplify the process of applying for electronic visas, ensuring a user-friendly website interface, easy operation, and displaying specific notifications about visa processing times,” he added.

A crowd of visitors takes boats to Huong Pagoda in Hanoi’s My Duc district. Photo: The Hanoi Times

Vu The Binh, Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, suggested that the government should end specific policies issued during the Covid-19 period and restructure the inbound market and the operation of the Tourism Development Fund, particularly in terms of resource mobilization.

“The majority of businesses are small and medium enterprises with limited resources, so they should have access to preferential financing from the government. We should also restructure the international source market in the tourism promotion strategy,” Binh stressed.

Nguyen Quoc Ky, Chairman of Vietravel, proposed a reorientation towards sustainable tourism development, stating that the tourism industry needs to update its development strategy.

“We suggest organizing more internationally recognized events to attract tourists. Currently, national events are organized in a fragmented manner, posing challenges for travel agencies in marketing and promoting Vietnam’s tourism products and national brand,” he said.