|Foreign tourists visit the Independence Palace in HCM City on August 8. VNS Photo Thu Hằng|
HCM CITY — Strict visa policies and a shortage of human resources and infrastructure in the tourism sector have stymied recovery of the travel industry, and the target of five million international arrivals this year could be out of reach, industry players warn.
Domestic travel has seen a strong rebound whereas international tourism, with a target of five million arrivals this year, remains in a slump, Vũ Thế Bình, chairman of the Việt Nam Tourism Association, said.
Domestic visitor numbers topped 71.1 million in just the first seven months of this year against a full-year target of 60 million, he said.
In the same period there were only 733,000 international visitors, or 8 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers, he told a two-day programme titled ‘Liên Kết Sức Mạnh Du Lịch Việt Nam Năm 2022’ (Power of Việt Nam Tourism Linkages) that ended in HCM City on Tuesday.
Though international tourism resumed in mid-March, the burdensome visa application process has slowed down international travel, Cao Thị Tuyết Lan, sales manager of Viettours Incentives & Events Company, said.
If concerns related to visa policies are not swiftly addressed, international visitor arrivals to Việt Nam are unlikely to be any higher during the busy international year-end travel season, she warned.
Tourism services have developed strongly at popular destinations such as Phú Quốc, Đà Nẵng, Nha Trang, and Hạ Long but other localities have not invested adequately in tourism services and promotions, she said.
The shortage of human resources is another factor hindering the recovery, she said.
Võ Anh Tài, deputy general director of Saigontourist Group, said inbound tourism plays a vital role in the growth of the tourism sector, and so it is hard to say the tourism sector is on the recovery track since the number of international arrivals remains modest.
Phùng Quang Thắng, director of Hanoitourist, said the spending by the 18 million international arrivals in 2019 surpassed that of the 85 million domestic tourists, highlighting the vital role of inbound travel.
Cao Trí Dũng, chairman of the Đà Nẵng City Tourism Association, said to boost international travel, the tourism sector needs to engage with digital and social media platforms considering the vast number of people accessing them.
Phan Thị Thắng, deputy chairwoman of the HCM City People’s Committee, said the tourism industry is a driving force for economic development, generates lots of new jobs and is an integral part of socio-economic growth.
She said in the city too domestic travel has seen a robust rebound but not foreign arrivals.
In the first seven months of the year the city received 13.3 million domestic and 765,000 foreign visitors.
Income from tourism was worth VNĐ60.3 trillion (US$2.59 billion).
To recover and achieve growth, the tourism sector needs to have more offerings, promotion and marketing programmes to attract international tourists, Thắng said.
Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyễn Văn Hùng said tourists from some of Việt Nam’s major markets such as Russia, Japan and South Korea have not returned.
His ministry has proposed to the Government a range of policies for recovery, he said.
The Government has worked with related ministries to address visa policy-related concerns and they would soon be mitigated, he assured.
It has also stepped up international marketing and promotion activities to speed up recovery and growth of the tourism sector, he added. —VNS