Thursday, 23 May 2019

Vietnam urged to expand visa waiver scheme to lure visitors

Updated at Friday, 07 Dec 2018, 14:47
The Hanoitimes - Delegates to the Vietnam Economic Forum focusing on tourism discussed measures to unleash the potential of the country’s tourism sector towards sustainable development.
Vietnam should consider adopting a more open visa policy in a bid to attract more tourists, participants said at the second session of the 2018 Vietnam Travel and Tourism Summit in Hanoi on November 6 and presided over by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam.
The 2018 Vietnam Travel and Tourism Summit. Photo: Ha Phuong
The 2018 Vietnam Travel and Tourism Summit. Photo: Ha Phuong
Unreleased potential
At the session, John Lindquist, BCG senior advisor and board member of British Tourist Authority, blamed the visa policy of Vietnam and said that Vietnam has the shortest list of countries in the visa waiver scheme in Southeast Asia, with visa exemption applied only for tourists from 24 countries, much fewer than the neighboring Thailand’s visa scheme.
Addressing the issue, UK Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward said that Vietnam should consider adopting a more open visa policy while still ensuring national security.
The picture of Vietnamese tourism industry is painted  in two contrasting colours, some delegates said. The bright colors representing the growth rate of 30% per year and the dark colors have to do with visa policy and poor destination promotion by travel agents.
Tourism promotion as the key for the industry to grow
Brent Hill, director of South Australian Tourism Commission, said that the future trend of tourism will be adventure travels. With so many destinations to offer visitors, the growth of Vietnamese tourism depends on how tourism is promoted.
“I think Vietnam's tourism industry should expand its investment in new destinations instead of focusing on big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City,” said Brent Hill.
Wrapping up the summit, as the head of the National Tourism Steering Committee, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said that over the past few years, Vietnam’s tourism grows faster than the general economy. However, it will be very difficult for the sector to keep its current growth rate as it is facing with a number of shortcomings in terms of visa policy and aviation infrastructure.
In order to maintain the annual tourism growth rate of 30%, Dam said that travel agents should diversify tour packages and apply information technology aggressively. The government will focus on developing smart tourism with the shared responsibilities between businesses and state agencies, he added.
The deputy PM wished that the tourism sector will take the lead in promoting Vietnam’s economic development, helping to raise the country’s rankings in terms of business environment and competitiveness.
On this occasion, a pack of cooperation memorandums were signed with a total value of more than US$2 billion, including the hotel management services between Hoi An South Development Co. Ltd. – Rosewood Hotel Group, the management consultancy between Nova Land and Minor International Group, hotel management service between Nova Land and Greg Norman Golf Course Design worth US$120 million, the memorandum of understanding on investment in the aircraft fleet and human resources for the development of low cost airline in Vietnam between Hai Au Aviation Joint Stock Company and AirAsia.
Ha Phuong
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