Vietnam's tourism transforming in the race with ASEAN countries and the world: Expert

WVR - Vietnam needs to enhance cooperationn with ASEAN countries to create joint tourism products, develop international travel routes, boost attractiveness, and competitive capabilities, according to experts.
Vietnam's tourism transforming in the race with ASEAN countries and the world: Expert
Vietnam's tourism transforming in the race with ASEAN countries and the world: Golden Bridge in Bana Hills. (Photo: baocongthuong)

Potential to attract international tourists

Vietnam is a country well-positioned to develop its tourism sector, especially sustainable tourism. Our nation boasts numerous beautiful, unique destinations, many renowned landmarks, and scenic spots listed among the world's most beautiful places, alongside a wealth of historical and cultural sites... Presently, Vietnam has over 40,000 historical and scenic sites, with over 3,000 nationally ranked and 5,000 provincially recognized.

Additionally, Vietnam stands as one of the few nations globally acknowledged by UNESCO for multiple heritages such as the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Hoi An Ancient Town, the Trang An Landscape Complex, Hue's Imperial City, the Citadel of the Ho Dynasty, the My Son Sanctuary... Furthermore, Vietnam possesses intangible cultural heritages like Hue Court Music, the Central Highlands' gong culture, ca trù (ceremonial singing), love duets (quan họ), xoan singing, and the Giong Festival... all designed to allure international tourists.

However, alongside these potentials, Vietnam's tourism industry hasn't fully tapped into its inherent opportunities. According to many experts, there's a lack of professionalism in crafting tourism products and promoting them. Vietnam's tourism products are slow to innovate, somewhat monotonous, lacking distinctiveness, and often overlap across regions. Furthermore, promotional efforts still have several limitations, lacking true professionalism and systematic approaches.

Moreover, effectively managing and utilizing tourism resources remains a challenge. The quality of tourism workforce training is limited, failing to adapt swiftly to global integration and competition. Particularly, Vietnam's tourism sector faces numerous challenges due to fierce competition from regional countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Cambodia, which have invested significantly in strategies to enhance their allure to international tourist markets.

Recognizing challenges and opportunities

Vietnam won 54 awards at the World Travel Awards Asia & Oceania Gala Ceremony 2023, further solidifying Vietnam's tourism brand and its position on the global tourism map.

During the national teleconference titled "Rapid and sustainable development of Vietnam's tourism," Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh emphasized tourism as a pivotal economic sector, significantly contributing to job creation, livelihoods, poverty reduction, and acting as a genuine, effective bridge for international cultural exchange. It allows visitors from around the world to visit, experience, understand, appreciate, and cherish more deeply Vietnam's land, culture, and people.

Vietnam's tourism transforming in the race with ASEAN countries and the world: Expert
Vietnam's tourism transforming in the race with ASEAN countries and the world: The Trang An Landscape Complex, an UNESCO-regconized World Heritage site. (Photo: Baoninhbinh)

According to the Prime Minister, the recent tourism situation has improved. By the end of October 2023, the total number of international tourists reached approximately 10 million, with 99 million domestic tourists, serving as a bright spot, making a positive, crucial contribution to the overall economic and social recovery and development of the country.

However, challenges persist in tourism, such as international tourist numbers in October 2023 being only 69% compared to the same period in 2019 (pre-pandemic). Additionally, the tourism sector continues to grapple with several long-standing challenges and issues. Hence, it's crucial to recognize the difficulties, challenges, opportunities, and advantages in order to adopt newer, better ways of thinking, methodologies, and approaches.

Develop unique tourism products

According to tourism and event management expert, Dr. Trinh Le Anh - Head of the Department of Event Management at the Faculty of Tourism Studies, University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vientam National University in Hanoi, to rapidly and sustainably develop Vietnam's tourism, there's a need to implement measures to innovate tourism products, thereby enhancing competitiveness within ASEAN and the global arena. This includes developing unique tourism products focusing on cultural experiences, adventure tourism, ecotourism, MICE tourism, and sports tourism to attract diverse groups of tourists.

Dr. Trinh Le Anh remarked, "It's essential to elevate the quality of tourism-related services, ranging from transportation and accommodation to dining and entertainment activities, to create a positive impression on tourists. Encouraging sustainable tourism and boosting sustainable tourism activities to reduce negative impacts on the environment and localities, while enhancing education on responsible tourism."

Simultaneously, intensifying technological integration, utilizing technology to enhance the tourism experience—including mobile applications, tourism information websites, and smart utility solutions. However, it's crucial not to overuse technology, losing the authentic essence of destinations and tourism resources.

Furthermore, reinforcing collaboration with ASEAN nations to create joint tourism products and develop international tourism routes capable of attracting a broad spectrum of tourists. Through this approach, Vietnam can enhance its attractiveness and competitive edge in the regional and international tourism markets.

"Sustainable tourism is considered a pivotal factor in helping destinations maintain and build competitive reputations and brands. There's a need to focus on training and developing tourism human resources, aligning with the demands of competition and integration," shared Dr. Trinh Le Anh.

Vietnam's tourism transforming in the race with ASEAN countries and the world: Expert
Vietnam's tourism transforming in the race with ASEAN countries and the world: Expert

Regarding training and developing tourism human resources, with a focus on sustainable tourism and meeting the requirements of competition and integration, Dr. Trinh Le Anh suggested several potential measures:

Firstly, developing specialized training programs and deepening knowledge on sustainable tourism, covering environmental management and community management, to enhance the skills and awareness of human resources in the tourism industry. Providing opportunities for tourism experts to learn from various fields such as environment, culture, and economics to gain multidimensional perspectives and interdisciplinary skills.

Secondly, establishing supportive policies and incentives for sustainable-oriented tourism enterprises, possibly through tax benefits, economic advantages, or special encouragement programs.

Thirdly, fostering collaboration between the tourism industry and research organizations to research and apply the latest advancements in sustainable tourism.

Lastly, developing evaluation standards and certifications for sustainable tourism businesses to establish credibility and attract tourists interested in this aspect.

"Through these approaches, I believe the tourism sector can ensure properly trained human resources and develop in a sustainable direction. This will help maintain competitive reputations and brands in the international market, rather than merely competing for tourism awards, which primarily impact marketing in the initial stages of market access," concluded Dr. Trinh Le Anh.

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