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Vietnam Seeks to Improve Tourism Image Amid Poor Return Visitor Figures

Despite a steady increase in visitor numbers in recent years, Vietnam’s tourism sector is struggling to entice tourists back for another stay.

According to VietnamNet, a record 10 million international tourists chose Vietnam as a travel destination last year. However, statistics from various government sources show that some 70% of first-time visitors don’t return for another trip.

On July 31, relevant government agencies and industry representatives convened at the Vietnam Private Sector Forum to discuss how to improve the nation’s image in the eyes of foreign travelers.

"Only a few bad cases are needed to tarnish the image of Vietnam because information now spreads at high speed via the internet. Localities must pay more attention to ensure tourist safety and policies must be better," Nguyen Van Tuan, head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, shared at the forum.

Tuan listed theft, traffic, food hygiene and pollution as the main factors deterring tourists from coming back.

Industry members, on the other hand, place the blame on Vietnam’s inadequate budget for tourism promotional activities. Vietnam only allocates US$2 million for tourism promotions annually, a far cry from that of regional neighbors like Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. These countries have have promotional budgets of US$69 million, US$80 million and US$105 million, respectively.

To combat these numerous problems, Nguyen Quoc Ky, head of the tour company Vietravel, called for better visa policies, crisis management and coordination between tourism localities. He also suggested an industry code of conduct so that the community, travel firms and tourists can better monitor and prevent violations.

While the local tourism industry is riddled with problems, not all hope is lost, as it seems that central authorities are taking notice. Forbes reported that the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism came up with a proposal to boost the tourism promotion budget to US$5.25 million and set aside a separate promotional fund with a principal investment of US$13 million.

Last year, Hanoi also inked a two-year, US$2 million deal with CNN to increase the amount of tourism material aired on the news channel in the hope of luring tourists to the capital.

[Photo via Trip Savvy]

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