Expert opinions on prospects of luring more foreign visitors to Vietnam

March 23, 2023 | 10:31
(0) user say
Industry professionals advise on the fact that Vietnam has not made significant progress in luring foreign visitors, despite offering a great deal of potential for tourism sector growth.
Expert opinions on prospects of luring more foreign visitors to Vietnam
VIR's roundtable: Seeking a boost for inbound tourism. Photo: Chi Cuong

According to the General Statistical Office, the number of foreign visitors to Vietnam in 2022 only reached 3.66 million, a decrease of 79.7 per cent compared to 2019's peak. This poses the pressing dilemma of how to promote tourism further to attract foreign tourists.

The following are expert comments from the roundtable entitled Seeking a Boost for Inbound Tourism, hosted by VIR in Hanoi on March 22.

Prospects of asymptotically luring foreign visitors to Vietnam: Experts
Ha Van Sieu, deputy director general of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism

Vietnam is a stunning tourist destination, but there are still many limitations that need to be improved. We are proud that we have achieved so much and are on the way to transformation and perfection.

There will be a resolution made at the National Assembly in May offering a series of both short- and long-term solutions. The current tourism development strategy for this decade, and the upcoming tourism system planning up to 2030, clearly describe the viewpoints, orientations, goals, and solutions for tourism development.

Currently, our policies have done well, and procedures and coordination between the parties are also gradually improving. In addition, there are solutions in place for synchronous infrastructure, aviation connectivity, service quality improvements, and promotion.

We are also asking Vietnamese travel companies to invest and learn more to keep up with new trends to bring Vietnam's tourism to a worthy level, taking advantage of the location, natural landscape, and cultural identity of the country.

Expert opinions on prospects of luring more foreign visitors to Vietnam
Nguyen Thi Le Huong, Deputy general director Vietravel

I appreciate Thailand's strategy to develop tourism. Thailand is among the top 10 countries with the largest number of international tourists in the world. It has achieved the goal of becoming the leading tourism market in ASEAN and has adopted efficient strategies.

Recently, the country launched an A-B-C strategy, where A is additional, B is brand new, and C is combined. It means the country connects new and popular tourism destinations into a well-oriented tour.

Vietnam has the same competitive advantage as Thailand, with many heritage sites and beautiful beaches. However, Vietnam needs synchronous solutions to attract inbound tourists as well as repositioning both brands and tourist products in line with customer trends.

For example, on tours to the northeast, guests mainly visit Sapa. Now, Ha Giang has become an attractive destination for tourists. It is necessary to promote Ha Giang tours to guests so that they can have more choices when travelling to the northeast. Key trends in tourism are travelling in small groups, taking short trips, working vacations, and entertainment.

Prospects of asymptotically luring foreign visitors to Vietnam: Experts
Duong Minh Duc, deputy director of Sales and Marketing at Saigontourist Group

Several significant travel and tourism trends were reinforced in 2022 to boost cooperation and attract international arrivals, which will continue this year. For example, there has been a rise in independent travellers, travelling with a smaller group for a more customised travel experience, as well as those combining business with leisure in the so-called b-leisure sector.

Following these movements, Saigontourist Group has adapted our strategies. Travel Leisure Magazine recently hailed Vietnam as one of the best places to enjoy unique culinary experiences, and we held the Culture and Culinary Festival themed Saigontourist Group Delicacies, which was honoured at the World Culinary Awards.

We see significant growth from cruise trips, along with meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions. We hosted eight international cruise trips anchored in Quang Ninh, Khanh Hoa, Danang, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, and Ho Chi Minh City this month and so far, we have serviced 23,000 international arrivals. Furthermore, we forecast that we will host about 30 this year and are targeting 170,000 international arrivals.

To offer our customers the best value packages and services, Saigontourist Group partnered with Vietnam Airlines. Ho Chi Minh City has cooperated with provinces in the Mekong Delta and surrounding area to roll out regional packages. There will be strategies and orientations to utilise the unique cultural highlights of specific regions. To promote stronger cooperation between various sectors, we need support from public policies and governmental leadership.

Prospects of asymptotically luring foreign visitors to Vietnam: Experts
Erwin R. Popov, general manager of the Hanoi Daewoo Hotel

The easier and more simplified the visa policy is, the better. We are not only looking for one nationality, rather wanting to attract visitors from all over the world. Every guest who comes is a win. That's why the visas must be simple, easy, and multi-entrance so that people really have time to go around.

Vietnam has a big opportunity now, but of course, there are always restrictions. However, if we want to attract customers, these procedures must be straightforward and fast, not time-consuming and expensive.

China's market is a big and an important one, but as I said, we cannot focus only on one market. We will do everything we can, but we have to be flexible enough, as we have seen what happens if we are dependent on one market and something happens to disrupt it. That is why we have to have an open-door policy for all nationalities and destinations.

Prospects of asymptotically luring foreign visitors to Vietnam: Experts
Pham Hong Long, associate professor and dean of the Faculty of Tourism Studies at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities under the Vietnam National University in Hanoi

Vietnam’s visa policy should be relaxed for traditional markets with high spending rates such as Europe, North America, Australia, Brazil, and Argentina. The tourism industry should focus on both quantity and quality, so it is necessary to place an emphasis on high-quality, key markets.

Secondly, our promotion, advertising, and communication is not really effective. Currently, Vietnam has only one representative office abroad, but it is still temporarily closed following the pandemic. Meanwhile, Thailand has 29. I think there should be a public-private partnership between businesses and state management agencies. The tourism industry needs to set up these offices abroad, especially in key tourism markets.

The nation still lacks restaurants, hotels, and entertainment facilities, and the existing resources need to be upgraded. Finally, it is necessary to build quality human resources that meet the high standards that are vital to serve international guests.

VIR to host a roundtable on boosting tourism VIR to host a roundtable on boosting tourism

VIR will hold a roundtable discussion themed "Seeking a boost for inbound tourism" with the participation of both local and foreign experts, who will discuss both the situation and solutions to make Vietnam more attractive to international tourists.

VIR's roundtable: Seeking a boost for inbound tourism (photo) VIR's roundtable: Seeking a boost for inbound tourism (photo)

VIR's roundtable discussion titled Seeking a Boost for Inbound Tourism kicked off on March 22 with insights and solutions to accelerate the recovery of international visits to Vietnam.

Municipalities seeking investment for tourism Municipalities seeking investment for tourism

Localities across the country are rolling out projects to boost investment in domestic tourism, but many obstacles remain for the industry to reach its full potential.

By Quynh Trang

What the stars mean:

★ Poor ★ ★ Promising ★★★ Good ★★★★ Very good ★★★★★ Exceptional