Vietnam cannot attract tourists because of low budget promotion

Vietnam cannot attract tourists because of low budget promotionDeputy 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 The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (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 in-considerably, 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 his money.

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.