A representative of a HCMC-based travel firm said the number of foreign travelers to Vietnam may reach 16.5 million in 2018, or higher than the targeted figure.

He said the achievements to be gained in 2018 would be great following a very prosperous 2017.

“The 30 percent growth rate in tourism revenue in 2017 is a dream of many countries,” he commented.

Vietnam is witnessing increasingly high numbers of travelers from two major markets – South Korea and China — with growth rates of 48.6 percent and 56.4 percent in 2017.

Other markets have also shown high growth rates, including Hong Kong (37.9 percent) and Russia (32.3 percent), which has bounced back after a period of interruption.

The upward trend in tourism in Asia Pacific and the world is believed to become clearer in 2018, particularly with the launch of new budget air carriers and increasingly high number of Chinese travelers.

Meanwhile, Vietnam has advantages to lure foreign tourists. It has natural, social and cultural conditions to develop a wide range of tourism products. It’s political certainties, low travel costs and low labor costs are also factors that prompt travelers to come to Vietnam.

Chair of the Vietnam Tourism Association Nguyen Huu Tho commented that Vietnam has great potential to develop tourism, while maritime tourism and ecotourism are the ‘gold mines’ of the industry.

Nevertheless, Tho said there are still many problems which may hinder the development of the tourism industry.

First, the low professionalism which leads to weaker competitiveness of Vietnam in comparison with other countries. Second, the cooperation among agencies and firms to develop tourism is ineffective.

“The weak point lies in the lack of close connections which can exploit the advantages of all localities and types of tourism,” he said.

Third, Vietnam needs to improve the way it uses IT to popularize its tourism potential.

He thinks that Vietnam should have a national operation center which regulates activities via websites. The website for foreigners must be different from that for domestic travelers, and must provide information travelers want.

Fourth, the lack of qualified workers. A report found that only 38-40 percent of workers in the tourism sector have had training.

Meanwhile, travel firms complain about the visa policy. Vietravel, calling the visa policy one of the bottlenecks in tourism development, has asked the government to reconsider the policy.

VietNamNet Bridge - February 15, 2018