The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) has
attributed the stagnation of the tourism industry to the lack of money to run
tourism promotion campaigns. However, experts believe the problem does not lie
in the lack of money, but in unreasonable use of money.
The articles about Vietnam’s slow tourism development have repeatedly appeared
on local newspapers recently.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs--Nguyen Thanh Son, said that he feels ashamed
of the stagnation of Vietnam’s tourism. While tourism is considered as the key
industry which can more easily make money than many other industries in the
context of the global economic crisis, it has not made any considerable progress
over the last many years.
The comment by Son appeared on an interview given to Tuoi tre after a big
trouble occurring at the recent international tourism trade fair in Berlin,
where a picture of Chinese landscape was displayed at the Vietnamese stall.
The trouble was so serious that it has raised anger among the public, while VNAT
has been violently criticized for the mistake.
In the interview, Son also pointed out the unprofessional way of promoting
tourism Vietnam has been following. He frankly said that VNAT has not succeeded
in many works, including the cooperation with localities and travel firms to
attract more tourists.
VNAT has been insisting on waving visas for foreign tourists. Over the last 5-7
years, Vietnam has unilaterally waved visas for the citizens from 7 countries,
namely Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Russia and Finland,
accepting the loss of $50 million.
Meanwhile, Vietnam cannot get anything in return for the visa waving. The number
of tourists to Vietnam has been increasing, but inconsiderably, while the sum of
money Vietnam can receive from the increase is not high enough to offset the
loss from visa wavering.
It seems that Son said a crude thing to VNAT and touch its on the raw. Nguyen
Van Tuan, VNAT’s General Director then replied that VNAT would ask Son for an
open dialogue about the problems of Vietnam’s tourism.
Tuan, while admitting the shortcomings in VNAT’s works, blamed the current
problems to the modest budget for tourism promotion campaigns.
He said that the tourism industry only has VND30-40 billion a year to carry out
promotion activities. The sum of money is really too small if noting that the
neighboring countries in the region such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore spend
$80-100 million a year on the activities.
He also complained about the slow disbursement of the budget, saying that this
makes VNAT unable to take initiative in programming tourism promotion programs.
VNAT has to spend most of its time on the administrative procedures to have the
money disbursed, and it has no more time left for preparing for the promotion
campaigns or the advertisement programs at international trade fairs.
However, the explanation by Tuan cannot ease the public criticism. An Ninh Thu
Do newspaper has reported that readers have expressed their dissatisfaction
about Tuan’s statements.
Nguyen Dinh Thong, a Hanoian, said he prefers booking outbound tours instead of
domestic ones, because he wants to receive high quality services which deserve
No one can say that Thailand, Singapore or South Korea have more beautiful
landscapes than Vietnam, but the countries still can attract more tourists than
Vietnam, because they are better in promoting tourism, have better
infrastructure items and provide better services..
Compiled by Thu Uyen