To increase awareness, the answer to Vietnam's travel industry
According to some experts at a recent travel forum in Ho Chi Minh City, a lack of awareness is to blame for Vietnam’s underperforming tourism sector. However, other commentators believe that in order to adequately support any marketing efforts, officials must first address the damage done to Vietnam’s international reputation by pollution on some of Vietnam’s beaches.
Undoubtedly, Vietnam has all the elements that make for the ideal holiday destination; sunshine, over 3000 kilometres of coastline with some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, a rich cultural history and not to mention warm, hospitable locals. However, despite all these factors, officials have noted that the number of international arrivals to Vietnam lags behind its regional peers as well as other top worldwide destinations. City advisor, Kieu Anh Vu, discussed the issue of Vietnam’s underperforming tourism sector at a recent travel forum in Ho Chi Minh City and concluded that Vietnam’s problem did not lie in the typical factors such as poor infrastructure, crime, pollution or high cost of travel and accommodation, but rather in a lack of awareness.
Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism representative, Doan Manh Cuong, agreed with Vu’s assessment and cited the fact that international awareness of Vietnam as a holiday destination is low. According to Vu, the solution is a fairly simple one- increased marketing. Notably, in early November, Vietnam announced the launch of its new tourism website- a joint initiative from the private sector and tourism authorities. VNAT (Vietnam National Administration of Tourism) officials hope the site, which aims to attract 10 million unique users per year, will become one of the top 10 tourism sites in the world.
Noemie Robin of the French Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City however, warned that the situation is far more nuanced than merely boosting awareness. Robin stated that officials cannot ignore the fact that Vietnam needs to address the issue of the negative stereotypes that it faces particularly as it relates to the issue environmental pollution. Robin cited polluted beaches as one key issue that has negatively impacted on Vietnam’s international reputation. According to Robin, without addressing this issue Vietnam cannot successfully market its many positive attributes.
In 2015, Vietnam welcomed 7.9 million international holidaymakers and as a result the tourism sector contributed 4.6 per cent (approximately USD $7.9 billion) to Vietnam’s GDP. Officials have set the ambitious goals of boosting arrivals to 10 million as well as increasing the sector’s contribution to the national GDP to 10 per cent by 2020.
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