VNAT keeps optimistic, people keep pessimistic about Vietnam’s tourism
VietNamNet Bridge – While the watchdog agency keeps excited about the achievements gained in 2012, travel firms and people think this is a kind of “unfounded optimism.”
The neighbors’ trump-cards
Malaysia is still considered the “tourism champion” in ASEAN. The country’s territory area is equal to Vietnam’s 303,000 square meters; its population is just equal to 1/3 of Vietnam’s (27 million vs. 87 million). However, the country still could attract 28 million international tourists in 2012.
Thailand, with the territory area of 514,000 square meters and 70 million in population, ranks the second with 23.5 million international tourists in 2012. Singapore, with the area just equal to 1/3 of HCM City, a city of Vietnam, and 5 million people, received 12 million international tourists in 2012.
Vietnam received 6 million international tourists, in accordance with the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) report. Meanwhile, the figure of 6 million foreigners should be understood as the foreigners entering the country, while not all of them were tourists.
Meanwhile, Saigon tiep thi has quoted experts as saying that the total world’s heritages of the three countries are just equal to a half of Vietnam’s. (Malaysia has 3, Thailand 5, Singapore 0 and Vietnam 16). The total area of the three countries is 2.5 times higher than Vietnam’s. The total population is a little bit higher than Vietnam’s. And their number of tourists is 10 times higher than Vietnam’s.
With Legoland in Johor state which covers an area of 51 hectares and the investment capital of $243 million, Malaysia can receive 2 million foreign tourists a year.
Thailand has witnessed the most impressive growth rate of 32 percent, thanks to the returning political certainties. The country has successfully attracted tourists back to Vietnam with the comprehensive professional tourism promotion campaigns.
Meanwhile, Singapore, after putting Universal and Marina Bay with Skypark into operation, has seen the number of tourists increasing significantly.
Most recently, Singapore has opened the 250 hectare Gardens by the Bay with the grandiose collection of 260,000 botanical species, including the thousands-year-old trees.
Cambodia is a poor country which does not have multi-billion dollar entertainment complexes, but it still has the “trump-card” to attract tourists. After the impressive show “Smile of Angkor” in Siem Reap, Khmer people have attracted tourists to the special tours, including the Kulen Mountain and Linga River, Oudong ancient capital and Preah Vihear temple.
Vietnam should focus on food, why not?
What Vietnam has had, after many years of developing tourism, are the festivals, which are big in investment capital, poor in the program content and useless to attract tourists.
Vietnam has 8,000 festivals, big and small, 500 anniversaries, but there has been nothing special to attract tourists. Meanwhile, the money used to organize the 8,000 festivals and 500 anniversaries is more than enough to create the impressive works, the “trump cards” to attract tourists.
It’s now the right time for Vietnam to focus on its advantages, instead of scattering money everywhere. And the advantage, according to many experts, is the food, a visible and testable thing, not something abstract.
Dien Quan is believed to be the pioneer in attracting tourists with its cuisine, when it was brave enough to spend more than $1 million to produce a reality show to promote Vietnam’s tourism, called “discovering Vietnam with Martin Yan.”
Experts have suggested compiling a dictionary about Vietnam’s 1,000 best dishes. The traditional local dishes have been suggested to add into the curriculum for training chefs.