The Áo Dài (Vietnamese Traditional Dress) Festival is one of HCM City’s outstanding tourism and cultural activities, attracting many visitors every year. VNA/VNS Photo Mỹ Phương
HCM CITY One of HCM City's top priorities in 2021 will be support for the hard-hit tourism sector, according to Deputy Chairwoman of the city People’s Committee Phan Thị Thắng.
At a recent meeting with the Department of Tourism and travel agencies, Thắng said the sector should develop new signature tourism products this year.
Nguyễn Ánh Hoa, director of the Department of Tourism, said that tourism promotions are encouraging local residents to buy tours at prestigious service providers to avoid low-quality products.
She pointed out that the health of local tourism businesses in the first three months of the year was "very weak".
Hoa proposed that the Government continue tax payment extensions and tax reductions for value-added tax and corporate income tax. It also said that businesses should try to access preferential loans and restructure their repayment periods.
About 90 per cent of small and medium-sized tourism businesses and inbound travel agencies in the city have temporarily stopped operation because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the department said.
Only 40-50 per cent of local tour guides and 10 per cent of foreign tour guides now have jobs. All of them are official staff of the remaining travel agencies, while freelance tour guides have switched to other jobs.
Lại Minh Duy, vice chairman of the HCM City Tourism Association, said he was worried about the small number of tourism agencies in the city.
“Tourists from the central and northern regions have paid a lot of attention to new destinations. So the city should promote attractive destinations in city districts, especially in Thủ Đức City and Cần Giờ District," he said.
Duy added that the Department of Tourism should also work with the Department of Industry and Trade to launch more shopping promotions linked to destinations.
Nguyễn Đông Hòa, deputy general director of Saigontourist, said the company has conducted a field trip to Thiềng Liềng Island in Cần Giờ District, a new potential tourism site, but has faced difficulties in developing new products.
He asked for financial support from the city while the company waits for Government support.
Thắng said that the city had conducted many field trips to local heritage sites, but noted that they were not set up to serve tourists.
“It’s necessary to do research and develop signature products as a way to help businesses lure more tourists,” she said.
Thắng asked the department to arrange tourism and cultural events during a safe period. “If the tourism sector organises activities well, other fields will be better as well.”
The total number of international visitors to the city in 2020 was 1.3 million, down 84.8 per cent year on year, while the number of domestic travelers was 15.8 million, a decrease of 48.45 per cent year on year.
Total tourism revenue was estimated at VNĐ84.5 trillion (US$3.66 billion), down 39.66 per cent compared to 2019.
The city targets having 33 million tourists this year. VNS