Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Developing special tourism activities and improving the skills of tourism staff are among the measures needed for HCM City’s tourism sector, speakers said at a forum on regional tourism held on Wednesday in the city.
Lê Thanh Liêm, vice chairman of the city’s People’s Committee, said the city aimed to be one of the top tourist hotspots in Southeast Asia, with tourism becoming a spearhead sector.
More international tourism events and a better diversity of tourism products would help attract more visitors, according to Liêm.
Cultural and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) tourism could produce more revenue for the industry, he said, adding that new marketing strategies and promotions abroad are needed to attract foreign tourists.
Though the city has advantages in tourism, a number of issues like poor taxi services and overcharging by vendors drive tourists away, he said.
Besides resolving these problems, the city also needs to address environmental issues to ensure sustainable tourism development, he added.
Bùi Tá Hoàng Vũ, director of the city’s Department of Tourism, said the city would organise a range of cultural, sports, fashion and cuisine events to attract more visitors.
To make the city a safe destination, Vũ said that problems related to fake and low-quality products, poor food hygiene, and sales fraud must be resolved.
He also urged the city to plan tourism development with destinations abroad and other regions in the country.
The number of foreign tourists visiting HCM City last year hit a record-high of 6.4 million, up 23 per cent compared to the previous year, according to the Department of Tourism.
However, tourism receipts increased only 12.6 per cent year-on-year to reach VNĐ116 trillion ($5.11 billion).
“To encourage spending, the department plans to set up a shopping complex with authentic made-in-Việt Nam products at fixed prices to meet demand,” Vũ said.
In the last few years, the department has identified and developed tourism activities with growth potential, such as street food, entertainment, folk arts, and recreational health care.
The city also plans to focus on creating a favourable business climate for hosting meetings, conventions and events.
Nguyễn Tuấn Anh, director of Asia Signature Tours Co. Ltd., said many foreign tourists praise the country’s landscapes, cuisine and friendly people.
“But we should learn lessons from Thailand where foreign tourists return many times,” he said.
Vương Anh Tuấn, deputy general director of Saigontourist, said the city’s tourism sector faces a lack of a tourism development strategy and that it should invest more in public transport, international airport terminals, and luxury accommodations.
Better coordination between local governments, travel companies, and international and domestic airlines would help tour operators, he added.
Matthias Wiesmann, general manager of Furama Resort Đà Nẵng, noted that the local tourism sector faces several challenges, including a limited budget for promotion and marketing as well as a shortage of highly skilled tourism staff, especially compared to other countries like Thailand and Malaysia.
HCM City is expected to welcome 7.5 million foreign visitors this year, a year-on-year increase of 25 per cent. The number of domestic arrivals is expected to rise by 15 per cent to 29 million, according to the Department of Tourism.
The forum, organised by Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper, attracted around 200 representatives from businesses, ministries and agencies throughout the country. — VNS