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NEW UPDATES Asean Affairs  1 July 2015  

Foreign arrivals continue to fall

 International arrivals to Viet Nam declined for the 13th consecutive month in June, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

It said the nation welcomed 529,000 international visitors last month, a month-on-month fall of 8.2 per cent and year-on-year fall of 1.9 per cent.

The office estimates a total of 3.8 million visitors in the first six months of the year, a year-on-year decline of 11.3 per cent.

The number of visitors from Europe has fallen by 14.7 per cent and from Asia by 10.6 per cent.

Australia has bucked the trend with a 1.6 per cent increase in the number of visitors.

The GSO said that international arrivals to Viet Nam have been much lower than other countries in the region in the recent years.

There were 7.8 million visitors to the country last year, while Malaysia received 27.4 million, Thailand, 24.8 million, Singapore, 15.1 million and Indonesia, 9.4 million.

A GSO report attributed the decline to several factors, including a failure to attract visitors for business and recreation, something that other countries have managed to do.

Relevant agencies have also not co-operated effectively in tourism management, it said.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) outbreak in South Korea and other Asian nations has resulted in a decrease in travel.

Apart from Germany, Italy, Spain and Finland, the number of visitors from key European markets decreased due to economic difficulties. The number of visitors from Russia was down 13 per cent.

A 2013 survey found 69 per cent of visitors said Viet Nam had beautiful scenery, but only 39 per cent said they were satisfied with the quality of service.

Many visitors also said Viet Nam offered less diversity in tourism products like souvenirs, but these were more costly than in other markets.

Solving the problem

Green tourism could help solve the problems that keep tourists from coming to Viet Nam - or from returning after their first visit. In this vein, participants at a workshop yesterday focusing on the development of green tourism in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta suggested the establishment of a steering committee to head the effort.

To do this, localities in the region have to establish better co-ordination mechanisms, speakers said.

The workshop, held in Can Tho City, was one of eight main activities under the Mekong Delta Green Tours Week that is being organised from June 26 to July 2.

Vuong Duy Bien, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said, "I hope that following this workshop, green tours will be given a push along the lines of sustainable development, contributing to environmental protection and climate change adaptation."

He said that in 2014, the Delta had welcomed over 1.8 million foreign tourists and more than 10 million domestic tourists, earning revenues of over VND 6.3 trillion (US$288 million) and providing jobs to over 2.2 million people.

However, sustainable development has become a critical problem for the region in the wake of severe environmental pollution, diminishing natural resources and climate change impacts, he said.

"Sustainable tourism development needs strong co-operation between tour companies and concerned agencies, particularly enterprises providing services like hotels and tourism sites" Bien said.

Participants noted that green tour development was a global trend with great growth potential in the Delta, which is criss-crossed with waterways, has high ecological value and cultural facets that are very attractive.

Given its natural advantages, green tours can promote socio-economic development in the region while protecting the environment and promoting climate change adaptation, they said.

They also mentioned challenges facing the development of green tours in the region, including low knowledge and awareness of green tours among its residents and policy shortcomings at the macro level. This has prevented strong linkages between agencies engaged in organising green tours in the region.

Tran Huu Hiep, director of the Department of Economic Affairs under the Southwestern Region Steering Committee, said better co-ordination was also needed between the Central and local governments.

Commenting on a proposal to develop special tourism products for the region, Hiep said three main areas of focus: co-ordination policy, resources generation and human resources development.

Thua Thien-Hue welcomes 1.6 million tourists

Nearly 1.6 million tourists visited the central province of Thua Thien-Hue in the first six months of this year, up 1 per cent over the same period last year, including 572,000 international visitors.

The tourism sector earned VND1.4 trillion (US$67 million), a year-on-year increase of 2 percent.

The 2015 Hue Traditional Craft Festival, held during the national public holidays on April 30 and May 1, drew more than 100,000 visitors, up 22 percent from the previous year.

Director Phan Thanh Hai of the Hue Relics Preservation Centre said it has welcomed nearly 1.1 million visitors to date, half of them foreigners.

The centre organised the Golden Tourism Week programme on April 22-28 and June 15-21, as well as many other activities including music performances, "royal parties" and exhibitions.

The province has said it plans to improve its tourism infrastructure, including completing construction of the Dien Bien Phu road to serve tourism in the southwestern part of Hue imperial city – a UNESCO-recognised world heritage. It will also upgrade the Hue Relics Preservation Centre, the Revolution and History Museum and the Ho Chi Minh Museum.

The locality will also improve its connectivity by opening at least six direct flights between Hue and Bangkok, and organising promotions in Hong Kong (China), the Korea World Travel Fair (KOTFA) and the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) tourism expo.

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