Barriers to reopening tourism

April 05, 2022 | 13:56
Experts at the Vietnam International Travel Mart, held from March 31 to April 3, concluded that the tourism industry needs to solve several issues quickly before it can focus on how many international visitors will return as the country reopens.
Barriers to reopening tourism
The recovery of the international tourist market poses a series of problems that need to be resolved

The Vietnam International Travel Mart, held from March 31 to April 3, attracted experts and business representatives to participate in discussions about the hurdles that prevent international arrivals from reaching the desired levels.

Nguyen Khoa Luan, director of Anh Viet Hop On-Hop Off Vietnam shared questions about the best direction to choose to open the international tourism market effectively. He feels that problems with products and human resources are being talked about too much and unless the visa problems are addressed, there will be no tourists to welcome.

“Vietnam has just exempted visas for visitors from 13 countries, while neighbouring countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines have issued exemptions for tourists from 64, 70, and 160 countries and territories respectively,” Luan said.

He added that "the first issue to be discussed should have been to increase the number of visa-free entries, and then find ways to promote the nation to potential markets. On that basis, the tourism industry could calculate the number of guests and the required number of personnel.”

Since the announcement of the complete reopening of tourism activities two weeks ago, obstacles have come from the fierce competition as many countries around the world have also begun to welcome visitors. Many of these destinations had a head start and are also constantly offering regular and timely updates on the latest regulations.

The Thai government is considering easing its entry requirements, including removing the need for a PCR test from May 1 and replacing it with a rapid test performed by medical staff after entry.

From April 1, those arriving in Singapore are not required to use masks when participating in outdoor activities. Lion Island has removed the limit on the number of daily entries and tourists do not need to do a rapid test if two doses of a vaccine have been received and a negative test result is obtained within two days prior to arrival.

However, Vietnam's tourism industry still possesses great advantages, according to Nguyen Trung Khanh, general director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, "We have started more slowly, but we have the advantage of the latecomer".

Khanh added, “Thailand has shown signs of saturation due to slow growth in tourist arrivals, while other countries in the region, including Vietnam, have emerged as new destinations with increasingly attractive tourism products."

Whether it is seen as a hurdle or an opportunity, Vietnam's tourism is entering a fair competition with other countries, because the pandemic has reset tourists' habits.

"Countries that are well-prepared will advance quickly," said Khanh.

According to data from the General Statistics Office, international arrivals in Vietnam increased by 41.4 per cent in March and were 2.2 times higher than in the same period last year. For the first quarter of this year, international visitors reached nearly 91,000, up 89 per cent over the previous year. This also led to an increase of 1.2 per cent in accommodation and food service revenue in Q1, and tourism revenue also increased by 1.9 per cent thanks to the open door policy.

However, the recovery of the international tourist market does pose a series of issues that need to be resolved, such as recruiting and training staff, preparing new products, promoting destinations, and improving the quality of services.

Representatives of many businesses serving inbound customers said that they are struggling with hundreds of work items that need to be resolved and their available resources are still very limited.

Phung Quang Thang, vice chairman of Vietnam Travel Association and director of Hanoitourist shared, “The international tourist market has been frozen for too long and the needs of tourists after the pandemic have changed. The first concern of businesses now is how to be ready to provide products to visitors."

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