Appropriate policies needed to unlock $35b tourism industry

Viet Nam has great tourism potential but the country needs appropriate policies to create breakthroughs to develop tourism into a spearhead industry and affirm its position on the global tourism map, experts have said.

At a recent conference, experts discussed measures to remove difficulties to unlock the US$35 billion industry in preparation for the second Viet Nam Private Sector Forum (VPSF), which will take place in Ha Noi at the end of this month.

Tran Trong Kien, head of the working group on tourism of VPSF, said promotion was critical to boost tourism but had not been paid adequate attention.

Kien said Viet Nam spent $2 million on promoting tourism, which was modest in comparison with other countries in the region.

In addition, Viet Nam needed to develop a sustainable and friendly tourism industry to encourage tourists to return.

Kien said openness on policies about visa and investments in the country’s tourism infrastructure remained limited.

According to Hoang Nhan Chinh, general secretary of VPSF’s tourism working group, visa policies should aim to create favourable conditions for foreign tourists.

Chinh proposed to extend the visa exemption duration to 30 days from the beginning of the third quarter of this year.

In addition, visa exemption should also be granted to tourists from Australia, Canada, Holland and New Zealand, as well as Belgium and Switzerland, who spent on average $1,200 per tourist, he said.

Chinh added that these six countries were currently granted visa exemption by 170 countries.

Viet Nam should also promote granting e-visas to foreigners entering the country, he said.

Vu The Binh, deputy president of the Viet Nam Tourism Association, said Viet Nam should open its visa policies further, adding that openness on visa policies would demonstrate Viet Nam’s integration with the world.

Binh also said a fund to support tourism development should be created.

According to Nguyen Quoc Ky, general director of Vietravel, the tourism industry will generate some $35 billion and create two million jobs for the economy by 2020, and, therefore, deserves investment by the Government to boost development.

The Government should pay attention to developing a tourism strategy and issuing policies to create a sustainable tourism environment, in addition to promotion and visa policies.

In the first half of this year, Viet Nam welcomed 6.2 million foreign tourists, increasing by more than 30 per cent over the same period last year.

2017 VPSF will discuss three spearhead industries of Viet Nam — agriculture, digital economy and tourism. — VNS

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