As tourism exceeds forecasts, major confab to discuss further progress

 The Vietnam Travel & Tourism Summit 2019 is scheduled to be held in Hanoi in December under the theme “For Vietnamese tourism to really take off”. The event is a public-private meeting and dialogue at national and regional levels to promote the sustainable development of the Vietnamese tourism sector.

major confab to discuss further progress

Chinese tourism glitch

According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), Vietnam and other countries have been affected by the US-China trade war and by instability in several other regions. This resulted in a drop in tourism from major markets in the early months of this year, affecting the overall growth of the sector.

Nearly 1.71 million Chinese visitors arrived in Vietnam in the first four months of 2019, a four-percent drop from last year for a feeder market that accounts for around 30 percent of all tourist arrivals to Vietnam – more than any other country.

To address the challenges, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the VNAT, and various localities and tourism businesses organized a number of tourism promotion activities with positive outcomes. In the first 10 months of 2019, the number of foreign tourists to Vietnam reached nearly 14.5 million, up 13 percent over the same period last year.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has labeled the growth impressive as it is significantly higher than the regional and international average growth. Most recently, Vietnam was honored in four categories of the World Tourism Awards 2019, including “Top Destinations in Asia 2019”, “Top Gastronomic Destinations in Asia 2019”, and “Top Cultural Destinations in Asia 2019”, while the historic central town of Hoi An won the title of “Asia’s Leading Cultural City Destination 2019”.

The Vietnam tourism development strategy until 2020 calls for tourism to become a key economic sector, with relatively uniform technical infrastructure, creating a driving force for socioeconomic development. The strategy calls for high quality, diversity and prestige of tourism products, imbued with national identities and able to compete with other countries in the region. The document forecast 10-10.5 million international tourist arrivals in 2020 and 47-48 million domestic tourists, with total revenue reaching US$18-19 billion, contributing 6.5-7 percent to the country’s GDP and creating three million jobs, including 870,000 directly in this sector.

Exceeding targets

Tran Trong Kien, Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board, said the tourism sector has exceeded the set targets. The number of foreign and domestic tourists has increased by five million and over 30 million respectively in the first 10 months of 2019 compared with the strategy goals. He expected that the direct contribution of tourism to the GDP in 2019 would reach nine percent.

While Vietnam’s tourism has far exceeded forecasts, it still faces major difficulties, such as marketing and promotion, environmental issues, visa procedures, and tourism products and services. The second Vietnam Travel & Tourism Summit will be held in December to seek solutions and new directions to promote the strong development of Vietnam’s tourism. The event is expected to bring together around 2,000 delegates from different ministries, localities and businesses.

The upcoming summit has set itself the following goals: promoting sustainable development for Vietnamese tourism and enhancing national competitiveness by 10-15 rankings by 2021; increasing the direct contribution of tourism to the GDP from 8.39 percent to over 10 percent by 2021, addressing the urgent problems on investment, advertising and attracting visitors from strategic and target markets; and building a common aviation market, with immediate priority given to the Mekong sub-region and ASEAN member states.

Accordingly, the forum will focus on five major groups of issues, including managing destinations (management and supervision of tourism planning and environment) and improving the quality of tourism services; strengthening tourism promotion and advertising; facilitating immigration procedures for international tourists; expanding aviation connectivity and accelerating infrastructure development; and raising awareness and improving the quality of human resources in the tourism industry.

In addition to discussions and recommendations on measures to develop Vietnam’s tourism and aviation industries, delegates will witness the signing of memoranda of understandings and cooperation deals, and also the launching of two offices advertising Vietnamese tourism in the United Kingdom and Australia based on a Public-Private Partnership model.

Bao Thoa