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Gov't greenlights tourism growth plan

Update: May, 30/2015 - 08:56
Tourist boats dock at the Van Don Habour in Quang Ninh Province, which is home to Ha Long Bay. The Government has agreed to exempt visa payment for citizens from key tourist markets. Viet Nam expects to host 50 million tourists, domestic and foreigh, and earn $11 billion by 2030. — VNS Photo Thai Ha
HA NOI  (VNS) — The Government has approved the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism's suggestions on developing the tourism sector.

The plan requires setting up a Viet Nam Tourism Development Fund (VTDF) and exempting visa payments for citizens from key tourist markets.

At the Government's regular meeting of May on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung asked related ministries and provinces to strengthen tourist development as one of the country's key economic sectors.

Also at the meeting, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Tuan Anh asked the Government to consider how to regulate and fund the VTDF.

The VTDF expects to raise VND2-2.5 trillion (US$92.6 million-115.7 million) in the next five years. The capital will be supplemented annually. Thirty per cent will come from the State budget and 70 per cent from social organizations and the tourism sector.

The ministry also suggested collecting money from foreign tourists staying at hotels.

Foreign visitors will need to pay VND10,000-20,000 per night when staying at three-star hotels and above. Several nations already do this.

After two years, the tax will be applied to both domestic and foreign tourists, and hotel owners.

VTDF will also call on tourism enterprises and individuals to donate. It will be used to promote tourism, expand the market and open tourist agencies in key foreign markets. It will also provide funding to train staff and boost security in tourist areas.

Visa exemptions

Viet Nam has given visa exemptions to citizens from seven nations: Japan, South Korea, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Russia, as well as nine ASEAN members.

Since 2014, when Viet Nam applied visa exemptions to citizens of Japan and South Korea, the number of tourists has increased by 2.43 per cent and 3.6 per cent, respectively.

The number of Russian tourists increased by 7.45 per cent since 2009.

The growth rate in these three nations was higher than the average growth rate of foreign tourists to Viet Nam.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has submitted four more countries it would like to provide exemptions for: France, the UK, Germany and Australia.

Tourism essential

Tourism has played an important role in the development of the southeastern region by creating jobs, eliminating hunger and reducing poverty, but the lack of a long-term, sustainable strategy has prevented the area from reaching its potential, the deputy minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism has said.

Speaking at a meeting yesterday in HCM City, Dang Thi Bich Lien said the Prime Minister had approved a master plan to develop tourism in the region to 2020, with a vision to 2030.

Turnover from tourism in HCM City, located in the southeastern region, has increased 26 per cent, and contributed 11 per cent to the city's GDP.

"We have recognised the importance of tourism and created favourable conditions for the industry to develop," said Nguyen Thi Hong, deputy chairwoman of the city's People's Committee.

The master plan for the region has set four targets by 2020, including more than 30 million visitors, turnover of VND125 trillion (US$6 billion), 90,000 rooms and 400,000 workers.

By 2030, the figure would jump to 50 million tourists, turnover of VND230 trillion ($11 billion), 145,000 rooms and 1 million workers.

The master plan includes a number of solutions to increase tourism. These include increased investment, improved human resources, regional and international tourism co-operation, regional master planning, more promotions, use of new technology, new tourism markets and products, environmental protection, and climate-change adaptation. — VNS

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