Vietnam’s tourism industry grows despite difficulties

Vietnam’s tourism industry maintains stable growth in 2014 despite facing changes in the international political and economic situation, and difficult domestic situation. However, the tourism sector has a long way to go, creating breakthroughs in developing the industry to promote the strengths of Vietnamese tourism in 2015.

Difficult achievements

Vietnamese tourism has made remarkable achievements in 2014, although facing many difficulties and challenges. A series of measures have been presented to overcome the decline of visitors, due to complicated regional and world situations. With these solutions in place, the number of foreign visitors to Vietnam in late months of 2014, increased again.

The tourism industry made achievements thanks to planned directives, especially though improving the awareness of tourism. In 2014, improving the awareness of tourism drew many changes — tourism is not only considered as relaxation, but also defined as an important economic industry in Vietnam’s socio-economic development strategy. Most provinces and cities have issued resolutions on developing tourism.

An achievement of the industry in 2014 was linking provinces to create tourism areas, such as Hanoi–Quang Ninh–Hai Phong; Hue–Da Nang–Quang Nam; Khanh Hoa–Lam Dong; and Binh Thuan–Ba Ria–Vung Tau–Ho Chi Minh City. The industry has focused on exploiting, investing and promoting the value of resources, working out measures to attract investment and building tourism products. Connecting the provinces has affirmed the brand name of different tourism areas, acting as a catalyst for developing other industries.

Diversifying tourism and building a brand for Vietnamese tourism were also highlights of the tourism sector in 2014. A series of tourism products—such as sightseeing tours, resort tours and spiritual tourism—has been building. New products, such as sport –adventure tours; eco-tourism; and meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) tours, have been developed.

The number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in Vietnam increased in this year. Heritage sites—including Ha Long Bay, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, the Hue Monuments Complex, the Old Town of Hoi An, My Son Sanctuary, the Thang Long Imperial Citadel and the Ho Dynasty Citadel—always attract a large number of both domestic and international visitors. A string of festivals, such as the Huong (Perfume) Pagoda Festival, Hue Festival, Ha Long Carnaval, Da Nang International Fireworks Competition and Da Lat Flower Festival, have also become important tourism events.

Some international tourism fairs, such as Vietnam International Travel Mart (VITM) and the International Travel Expo Ho Chi Minh City 2014 (ITE - HCMC), were also held successfully in 2014.

Great challenges

Despite its achievements, the tourism industry is still facing great challenges in 2014.

Tourism has moved towards to becoming a leading economic sector. However, the current policy system for developing tourism, especially legal documents on the instruction of the implementation of the Tourism Law, is incomplete. Additionally, some projects, strategies and programmes were not feasible.

The lack of close co-operation among related industries and departments is also considered an obstacle for developing Vietnam’s tourism sector. The tourism industry has met difficulties in preserving the natural resources and protecting the tourism environment that has affected the sustainable development of the industry.

The number of foreign tourists to Vietnam has increased rapidly in recent years. However, the number is less than the four countries in the region, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. Some other factors, such as infrastructure, and visa regulations, significantly affected the number of foreign visitors to Vietnam.

A lack of professionalism in tourism marketing, coupled with a dearth of well-qualified workers in the field, has imposed limitations on the sector’s viability. As the State budget spent on hospitality in Vietnam is less than in other countries in the region, the sector has achieved modest results in advertising Vietnam’s attractions and stimulating tourist demand in targeted markets.

New necessary breakthroughs

In its tourism development strategy for 2020, with a view to 2030, Vietnam has defined the direction, tasks and solutions for the next years. The solutions will focus on building the brand name of Vietnamese tourism, improving the quality of tourism and creating highly competitive tourism products.

According to General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), Nguyen Van Tuan, a resolution on developing tourism has been submitted to the Prime Minister for approval. The resolution is expected to resolve Vietnam tourism industry’s problems that have long remained unsolved. The resolution will focus on developing tourism products; developing infrastructure and material facilities in the sector; training and developing human resources; developing markets; promoting and developing tourism brands; and improving international co-operation and state management.

The industry will continue to create momentum for its robust development in a bid to achieve its 2015 target of attracting 42.5 million visitors, including 7.5 million foreigners, earning US$9 billion in total revenue.

The tourism sector strives to greet 10-15 million foreign tourists and 40-45 million domestic arrivals, with a tourism turnover of US$18 billion, by 2020.

Nhan Dan
Vietnam’s tourism industry in 2014