|Workers toil to install electricity power lines in Hà Giang Province. By the end of 2023, all regions of Việt Nam will have electricity and internet access. VNA/VNS Photo Huy Hùng|
HÀ NỘI — Predicting the future is a dangerous game. As political figures declare that next year is forecast to have opportunities and advantages but also difficulties and challenges, with the latter outweighing the former, it only feels right to have a pop at how the next 12 months will pan out (even if only to laugh at this time next year).
Starting at the beginning, January 27 will mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords that ended the direct involvement of US troops in Việt Nam. While the hostilities in Việt Nam did not cease until 1975, it will be interesting to see how this event is commemorated, given the warm relations between Việt Nam and the US today.
While the waters have much receeded after the COVID-19 pandemic, the tide will still be against the tourism sector. The times of welcoming international visitors anywhere near the heady days of 2019, when 18 million (myself included) came to Việt Nam’s shores, are still a few years away.
However, this past year has been hugely successful for the domestic tourism sector, with 101.3 million travelling around Việt Nam. A stronger pivot towards this market might play out as the year progresses, with businesses rejecting the ‘traditional’ (foreign) tourism market in favour of the emerging ‘new wave’ (domestic), powered by continued economic development that gives more people more opportunity to take time off work and travel.
Part of the above change has been driven by technology that makes it faster, easier or cheaper to get away. Technology, like time, relentlessly marches on, and society slaloms like a getaway driver to keep up with how best to use these new tools. In the new year, expect changes strong-armed upon us by the COVID pandemic (cashless payments, remote working) to become more entrenched.
At the other end of the white heat of technology, PM Chính has urged ministries to ensure that those parts of the country that still do not have electricity and internet be connected. The inclusion of internet access as a basic necessity alongside electricity itself proves the intrinsic link between access to the web and economic development, and we will continue to see greater connectivity between urban and rural areas of Việt Nam. The National Database is also scheduled for completion in 2023.
So there you have it; celebrations, a greater focus on domestic tourism as more people in Việt Nam have the luxury of taking a holiday, and the further utilisation of technology to bring more people into the fold.
Oh, and in the early hours of October 29, 2023, I bet Ireland will be crowned Rugby World Cup champions. VNS