HA NOI — Touring city sites is an appealing attraction for visitors to many countries, however, Ha Noi has been accused of having little to offer.
|Foreign tourists buy souvenirs in the Old Quarter in Ha Noi. The capital has been criticised for failing to visitors due to lack of investment and poor services. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Tuan
"This has been blamed on a lack of investment and poor service and knowledge of what tourists actually want," said Mai Tien Dung, deputy director of the Ha Noi Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism.
Duong said the tourism sector in Ha Noi contributed 4.6 per cent of the city's GDP in 2011 and this was expected to reach 6.6 per cent this year.
Annual funding for tourism promotion in Ha Noi ranges from VND2 to 2.5 billion (US$96,000-120,000), but this was too low to build infrastructures, tourism services, and training tour guides, Dung said.
Nguyen Anh Tuan, deputy director of travel at the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism said on the official Vietnamtourism site: "Visitors to Ha Noi don't stay more than two days because on the third day, they don't know what to do.
"Ha Noi is proud to have over 5,000 historical relics, but really how many interest tourists?" he said.
"However, the city can develop tourism and entertainment linked to Vietnamese trade villages. If these villages were tied to tourism development and investment, they could become outstanding products," he stressed.
Vu Chinh Dong, vice chairman of the Ha Noi Tourism Association said that city tours were poorly organised and lacked new places to go.
Dong added that "all have the same journey format, such as Ngoc Son Temple - the Old Quarter-Literature Temple - the Museum of Ethnology. They don't create any tourism services. No one finds out new ways to develop the tours.
"Activities for guests in the evening are also quite insipid. Most tour guides take foreigners to see the water-puppet show or for a walk around the Old Quarter," Dong said.
According to tourism experts, in big cities in Viet Nam, city tours exploit tourism services in a disoriented fashion.
They say Ha Noi has many potential tourist sites it could develop, but authorities have shown little interests. And small private travel companies cannot afford to create new tourism products.
Noang added that funding for tourism advertising to the world was very limited and unprofessional.
Deputy director Truong Minh Tien from the department said that Ha Noi had approved a master plan for tourism development up to 2020 with a vision to 2030.
This envisages the total number of visitors reaching 23.2 million a year by 2020, of which 3.2 million would be international and domestic travelers, 20 million.
The master plan also envisages that by 2030, the total number of visitors will reach 31.3 million.
The capital has also set a target for the proportion of tourism in its GDP in 2020 at 8.2 per cent, and 9.3 percent by 2030.
According to the plan, the city should develop an infrastructure for tourism, particularly local tourist sites, improving the quality, diversification of tourism product types and associated with the development of professional tourism human resources.
According to statistics from the department, in the first six months of 2012, Ha Noi welcomed 7.3 million domestic tourists, up 24 per cent compared to the same period last year. It also had 1.03 million international passengers, an increase of 20 per cent over last year's same period. — VNS