Ninh Binh is known as “the inland Halong Bay”. Photo: North-vietnam.com
Vietnam is not exactly a stranger to tourism, according to the UNWTO. Anyone who has visited Ha Long Bay, where junk boats packed with tourists jostle for space on polluted waters, will likely have seen the grimmer side of the country’s burgeoning tourism industry.
The organization also recommended Ninh Binh, “the inland Ha Long Bay”, as a less-crowded alternative to the oversubscribed tourist staple.
Together with beautiful nature diversified with mountains, forests, deltas, beaches, caves, waterfalls and rivers, its various tasty and cheap street food and friendly people have also attracted more and more tourists.
It welcomed over 1.17 million international tourists in November, an increase of 14.4 per cent compared to October, bringing the total to 11.6 million in the first eleven months of 2017, up 27.8 per cent against the same period last year, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).
It welcomed 10 million international tourists for the first time in 2016, up 25 per cent against 2015. The number was only 2 million in 2000.
Vietnam aims to develop tourism into a spearhead economic sector by 2020, with a target of welcoming up to 20 million foreign arrivals and hosting 82 million domestic tourists, contributing 10 per cent to GDP and earning $35 billion in revenue.
The tourism industry has implemented new policies to invest in infrastructure and attract tourists.
Vietnam already offers visa exemptions for tourists from South Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asian countries, as well as extended visa-free programs through to June of next year for travelers from Western Europe, including those from the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy. An e-visa system has been in place since February for tourists from 46 countries, at http://vietnamtourism.vn/plan-your-trip/visa-requirements.
In the next three years, a project to restructure the tourism industry based on key tourism products in coastal areas, islands, ecotourism, and community tourism will be a focus.
The country also plans to reduce electricity costs for the hospitality sector and issue appropriate land use tax rates for tourism projects, to attract investors.
Airlines are also encouraged to open new routes linking Vietnam and major tourism source markets.
Vietnam is also calling for investors to develop integrated tourism and services projects, such as shopping centers and entertainment centers, in key tourism destinations.
Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien said Vietnam will be able to catch up with Indonesia in tourism growth this year.
It should accelerate its growth, he added, and attract more tourists and enter the Top 3 in ASEAN, which are now Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.
By 2030, tourism, as a spearhead economic sector, will drive the development of other sectors and Vietnam will be one of the leading Southeast Asian countries with strong tourism growth.
The other countries on the UNWTO’s list are Palestine, Egypt, the Northern Mariana Islands, Iceland, Tunisia, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Mongolia, and Israel.
VN Economic Times