The National Forum on Domestic Tourism 2021 hosted by the Việt Nam Tourism Association (VITA), Ninh Bình Province’s Tourism Department and other agencies opens tomorrow in the northern province of Ninh Bình, gathering some 500 participants including representatives from the culture ministry, tourism management agencies and leading tourism firms.
Vũ Thế Bình, Deputy Chairman of the VITA. VNS Photo Ngọc Minh
Lê Hương speaks to Vũ Thế Bình, Deputy Chairman of the VITA on the event and the state of Việt Nam’s tourism sector:
Why is your association hosting the forum? What will be discussed?
Not many travel agencies have paid proper attention to developing domestic tourism, which brought about only 20 per cent of the total income of the tourism sector before COVID-19.
But due to COVID-19, domestic tourism has been widely developed in 2020 due to the closed-door policy.
More than ever before, tourism products have been designed for domestic tourists.
That’s why all of the VITA’s activities have aimed at domestic tourism and we decided to host such a forum, which is the opening event for the ninth annual Vietnam International Tourism Mart (VITM) planned to take place in Hà Nội between May 5 and 8.
This forum has the theme 'Domestic Tourism – a Driving Force to Recover Việt Nam’s Tourism in New Normal Situation'. Participants will analyse the importance of the domestic tourism situation, the development of domestic tourism in Việt Nam and other neighbouring countries and solutions to develop domestic tourism as a sustainable economic sector.
Domestic tourism is one of the three most important factors for tourism besides outbound and inbound tourism.
The development of domestic tourism has been done rather spontaneously by localities and single enterprises. If we aim to develop domestic tourism as a main economic sector in tourism, it should be properly planned with favourable policies, which the Vietnamese tourism sector is still in need of.
That’s why in this forum, we want to discuss Vietnamese people’s tastes, destinations that suit Vietnamese people and how tourism sites should be improved to attract more domestic guests. All these things might have been done well by single enterprises. But the whole tourism sector hasn’t got a strategic plan for this purpose. The forum aims to complete a strategy to develop domestic tourism to ensure it will always be a solid foundation for developing international tourism.
What do you think about welcoming international tourists in a trial period after a policy on vaccine passports is approved?
There will be some problems to deal with. Currently, we welcome domestic tourists to all destinations but international customers are still very important. Paving the way for international tourists is necessary for every country. However, at this time, everything should be in moderation. We all know that international guests should not be welcomed in mass numbers like before the pandemic. When enterprises welcome the first foreign guests, they should not receive domestic ones.
I have visited a big resort in Phan Thiết, where two parts are separated for foreign and domestic customers. The two areas are located a few hundred metres away from each other. So I think all golf courses can do the same thing.
Many golf courses are now deserted, which can be used for welcoming foreign tourists in a trial period. Some golf courses may have frequent Vietnamese players. Yet when the owners of the courses want to spare vacant rooms for foreign guests, they should negotiate with the Vietnamese members so that foreign customers are given priority.
What do you think about vaccine passports for international tourists?
It’s the most important way to open the doors to tourists again. Vaccines are not 100 per cent safe. But we haven’t got anything better than vaccines now. So we should use a vaccine passport policy together with other healthcare protections regulated by the Ministry of Health to prevent the virus.
Or we should test customers when they enter the country and when they leave the country.
We are still waiting for the Ministry of Health and the tourism sector to agree with each other to carry out the policies.
The most important thing is that when we receive foreign guests, we should offer the most convenient conditions and relaxing atmosphere for them as they are here for travel, not to be kept in a quarantine area. Safety for locals and foreign tourists is the biggest priority. All sectors have the right to propose their opinions on this matter. The Government will decide when we open the door again to foreign tourists.
What do you think we should do to continue tourism activities during the pandemic?
There are many things the tourism sector should do. Every sector is trying to go forwards in a 'new normal' situation. The pandemic may return here again, but the tourism sector should always adapt to that. Normal tourism activities should be carried out at safe places that are free of COVID-19. We should only stay still in places with many positive cases. The tourism sector will always try its best not to stop tourism activities throughout the nation. I believe not many economic sectors are trying to rise up so actively despite the hardship from COVID-19. VNS