|Heritage textiles: A visitor buys a brocade shirt from a Mông Hoa ethnic minority woman at Cán Cấu market in the northern province of Lao Cai. -- VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Hà|
HÀ NỘI – Việt Nam’s tourism sector has seen signs of development in the first quarter of the year, Nguyễn Văn Tuấn, director of the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism’s Marketing Department, said yesterday at a press conference.
The conference reported on results of tourism activities in the first three months of this year, difficulties that the sector has encountered and goals for the future.
The number of international tourists reached 2.5 million - 20 per cent more than the same period last year. The number of domestic visitors reached 18.7 million, and total revenue was over VNĐ109 billion (US$5 million), a 21 per cent increase over 2015.
The number of tourists from Russia, one of Việt Nam’s biggest tourism markets, increased 13.5 per cent and is expected to keep rising. Việt Nam, especially Khánh Hòa Province, is ranked fourth on some lists of Russian tourists’ favourite destinations.
The Federal Agency for Tourism of Russia is planning to set up representative offices support Russian tourists in Việt Nam.
“Spending by tourists from five European countries with visa exemptions in Viet Nam starting last July have significantly contributed to tourism revenue, showing that the new visa policy has encouraged tourism,” Tuấn said.
The department is currently summarising the results of the visa exemption changes, which will end on July 1, he said. Additionally, it will also finish the dossier and propose the visa exemption to tourists from 13 countries who enroll in package tours by Vietnamese travel agencies, he added.
In the first quarter, the tourism sector reinforced its management, focused on conducting major tasks, harmonised activities among relevant organisations and launched many tourism activities during times of high demand like the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday.
However, the tourism sector is also facing difficulties such as limitations in managing adventurous tourism, which has led to deaths of foreign tourists.
Đà Nẵng success story
International visitors to HCM City in the first quarter increased to 1.37 million, up 12 per cent year-on-year, accounting for 44 per cent of the total international arrivals in the country. Even so, tourism companies say the city lacks international events to attract foreign arrivals.
The city has no new tourism products besides the landmarks of the past 20 years, including the Notre Dame Cathedral, Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Củ Chi Tunnels.
The new inner waterway tourism route along Nhiêu Lộc-Thị Nghè Canal that opened last September has met with numerous difficulties, including expired permits, and a lack of toilets, parking lots and souvenir shops.
Travel firms said they had to take tourists to other places and HCM City often is just a stopover for other trips. There are now more direct flights from countries to other Vietnamese cities and provinces.
Direct flights from Russia and Singapore to Phú Quốc Island are offered at low prices, as well as flights from Russia to the central coastal city of Nha Trang, and from Cambodia and Thailand to Đà Nẵng City.
Meanwhile, the city’s Department of Tourism’s website offers only basic information and the HCM City Tourism Promotion Centre, established in 2012, has no website.
“There are a great number of international visitors to the city who do not use the services of travel firms,” a representative of a travel company said. “They need informative, reliable sources of information.”
“An investment in the city tourism’s website is really needed,” he said.
He cited Đà Nẵng as an example.
“Around 10 years ago, Đà Nẵng was not a tourism destination, and tourists did not pay attention to Bà Nà,” he said. “But the city has destinations for tourism, and gotten rid of social evils, which bothered tourists.”
“Đà Nẵng has also built impressive bridges and launched open river tours at night, and has an annual international firework festival.”
The city is now more livable and more inviting.
“Why doesn’t HCM City, with the Saigon River and trade villages, not do something like Đà Nẵng?” he said. VNS