Viet Nam News
by Hoàng Nguyên
HCM CITY – With Việt Nam working towards making tourism a key sector by 2020, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyễn Ngọc Thiện has sought to strengthen co-operation with Italy to expand promotion programmes and attract more Italian visitors to the country and vice versa.
Speaking at a conference on Việt Nam – Italy tourism cooperation on the sidelines of the 13th International Travel Expo in HCM City on Thursday, he said "Italy is one of the most important markets for many countries including Việt Nam since every year 28 million of Italians, or nearly 50 percent of the country’s population, travel abroad".
Since the two countries signed agreements in 2009, and with Việt Nam waiving visas for Italians, the number of tourists from Italy has been on the rise.
However, the steady 13-18 per cent growth in this number notwithstanding, Việt Nam has not fully exploited the potential of the Italian market.
Thiện blamed this on the lack of information about tourism products and tour packages, Italian-speaking tour guides and direct flights from Italy to Việt Nam.
Therefore, "the conference is an important platform for tourism officials and tour operators from the two countries to learn about trends and tourists’ behaviour from each other," he added.
Italian Deputy Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism Dorina Bianchi said though the number of Italian tourists visiting Việt Nam might not be high her compatriots were very interested in trying out new destinations, especially in Asia, including Việt Nam.
Việt Nam has the advantages of beautiful landscapes and delicious food and drinks that can be very attractive to Italian travelers, according to the deputy minister.
If Việt Nam can soon start a direct air service to Italy and increase the number of days Italians can stay in Việt Nam without a visa, the two countries can see tourism growth.
Nguyễn Văn Tuấn, director general of the Việt Nam National Administration of Tourism, promised to lobby the Government to continue the visa waiver for another five years and to increase the visa-free stay to 30 days from the current 15.
Carlotta Colli, the Italian consul general in HCM City, said that last December Italy became the first Schengen country to set up a visa application centre in Đà Nẵng to make things easier for Vietnamese.
Referring to the shortage of Italian-speaking tour guides, she said the Italian embassy and consulate were making efforts to offer more Italian courses in Hà Nội and HCM City.
Many people graduating from those courses had become tour guides, she added.
At the conference, tour operators from the two countries spoke about how to attract more visitors, saying one of the key factors is understanding tourist behaviour.
According to Trần Mạnh Đức, head of Vietravel’s European market department, Italian tourists tend to take long vacations in Việt Nam to explore many places.
They are keen on luxurious services, especially accommodation, Vietnamese cuisine and local specialties, something that Việt Nam should take note if it wants to attract them.
According to Giampietro Trovò, product manager of Italian tour operator Boscolo, Italian tourists like to travel in small groups to experience Vietnamese lifestyles.
Since not many Italians can speak English well, Vietnamese tour operators who have Italian-speaking tour guides have a competitive edge.
Italians love to spend the end of their trip on the beach and tan, and tour operators should keep this in mind when designing tour packages. VNS
HCM City, Italy strengthen tourism partnership
HCM City is seeking stronger ties in culture and tourism with Italy, Nguyễn Thị Thu, the deputy chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee, said at a meeting with Donari Bainchi, Italy’s deputy minister of cultural heritage, activities and tourism.
Tourism is one of the city’s most important sectors, significantly contributing to development, Thu said at the meeting, held yesterday in HCM City.
With Italy’s support, the city will have more opportunities to promote tourism and preserve cultural heritage, she said, adding that tourism-related programmes have been planned to strengthen relations between Italy and the city.
Bainichi said that Italy would continue to support Việt Nam and HCM City, especially in the field of culture, music, and tourism, and would step up efforts to train Vietnamese preservationists and offer scholarships to tourism officials.
She added that she was impressed with Việt Nam’s tourism potential and that more tourism promotion activities should be organised. — VNS