VIR's rountable discussion sheds lights on the recovery of inbound tourism

March 22, 2023 | 10:07
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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.

ROUNDTABLE: Seeking a boost for inbound tourism

Speaking at the opening of the roundtable discussion, VIR's Editor-in-Chief Le Trong Minh shared, "Tourism is one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing economic sectors in the world today. Its importance in creating jobs and promoting growth is addressed in some of the Sustainable Development Goals in the United Nations Development programme."

He cited statistics showing Vietnam's tourism created more than 1.3 million direct jobs in 2019, contributing 9.2 per cent of the country's total GDP (equivalent to $32.8 billion). This is a significant number, but it remains low compared to the global average. Vietnam has yet to unlock the full potential of its tourism industry.

"Despite the economic volatility, the recovery of inbound tourism will bring many advantages, such as creating jobs and improving labour mobility. As the manufacturing industry is struggling due to a shrinking export market, tourism is a viable on-site export industry for agriculture, fisheries, souvenirs, silver, and precious stones. Tourism is also a driving force to develop the aviation industry and tourism infrastructure while promoting public and private investment," said Trong

The roundtable discussion saw the participation of leading economists, tourism experts, and business representatives in the hospitality industry, who pointed out the problems, solutions, and international best practices in the region. In particular, many experts highlighted that a restrictive visa policy makes Vietnam less attractive to international tourists.

Nuno F. Ribeiro, deputy senior programme manager for Tourism and Hospitality Management at RMIT Vietnam, is cautiously optimistic about Vietnam's tourism industry. The easing of travel restrictions is fuelling the recovery, and the government is promoting Vietnam as a green and sustainable destination.

This strategy has yielded some positive results, such as the development of ecotourism projects in Phu Yen and the Mekong Delta region.

He added that Vietnam will increasingly attract travellers looking for sustainable destinations. The country has ample potential, including coastal destinations such as Phu Quoc, cultural destinations such as Hoi An, and interesting urban centres like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

VIR's rountable discussion sheds lights on the recovery of inbound tourism

However, Vietnam will also face fierce competition from neighbouring tourism markets such as Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. These regional peers quickly lifted pandemic restrictions and adopt less stringent visa and immigration procedures.

In the same vein, Hoang Nhan Chinh, general secretary of the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board, noted that Vietnam only received half the number of foreign visitors as Thailand did prior to the pandemic.

According to the World Economic Forum's Global Tourism Development Capability Index Report 2021 that was released in May 2022, Vietnam's tourism ranks 52nd out of 117 economies, up 8 places compared to 2019. This is the third-largest increase globally, after Indonesia (up 12 places) and Saudi Arabia (up 10 places). However, the industry is currently dealing with the sad reality of shrinking inbound tourism.

"Inbound tourism not only creates a large source of revenue, but also creates more jobs. Its development brings foreign currency to the country, keeps the exchange rate solid, and helps maintain macroeconomic stability. Therefore, it is vital to remove the bottlenecks related to visa policies, including e-visas and visa-free travel," he stressed.

At the event, experts and leaders of many tourism businesses also offered solutions to promote Vietnam's tourism and attract investment capital to complete tourism infrastructure. They also proposed options for localities to create synergy as they diversify their tourism products and reduce costs for visitors.

The list of speakers includes:

Nuno F. Ribeiro, deputy senior programme manager for Tourism and Hospitality Management, RMIT Vietnam

Nareekarn Srichainak, First Secretary, The Royal Thai Embassy in Hanoi

Phan Duc Hieu, Permanent Member of the National Assembly Economic Committee

Dang Tuan Viet, Deputy Director, The Immigration Department, Ministry of Public Security

Nguyen Thi Le Huong, deputy general director of Vietravel and director of Vietravel Hanoi

Hoang Nhan Chinh, secretariat director, Tourism Advisory Board

Martin Koerner, head of the Tourism Working Group, Vietnam Business Forum, and chairman of EuroCham's Tourism and Hospitality Sector Committee

Duong Minh Duc, deputy director of Sales and Marketing, Saigontourist Group

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By Thanh Van

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