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Vietnam Launches New National Tourism Website

On Tuesday, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) launched its new and improved tourism website in an effort to boost the quality of the country’s tourism information and services.

The website, which was unveiled to the public at London’s World Travel Market earlier this week, features destination guides, practical details and general travel information from over a dozen writers, photographers and travel professionals, including Saigoneer’s Lee Starnes, Michael Tatarski and Dana Filek-Gibson. Designed with the help of OgilvyOne, the website will target foreign travelers of all ages and backgrounds.

For Hawkins Pham, this debut has been a long time coming. Since 2009, the businessman has been working with both industry stakeholders and VNAT to create the country’s Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), an organization which leverages the expertise of private sector firms to help Vietnamese officials improve the quality of the country’s tourism offerings.

Video via YouTube user Vietnam Timeless Charm.

Though the website is a new development, TAB’s other efforts have already paid off. According to Pham, the organization was, in part, responsible for visa waivers to European travelers and last year began work on a website which could provide reliable tourism information. This year, with international arrivals to the country expected to hit 9.6 million, according to Vietnam News, a user-friendly digital platform could not come at a better time.

“The TAB’s core mission is to increase Vietnam’s competitiveness as a tourism destination and one way to do so is to assist in marketing the country internationally,” Pham tells Saigoneer via email. “Vietnam has tremendous natural attributes and travel products already, but may still be too ‘exotic’ for some international travelers.”

Izzy Pulido, managing editor of the site and founder of The Next Somewhere travel blog, can attest to the difficulty of tracking down such travel advice. When she first arrived in Vietnam nine months ago, Pulido struggled to find reliable information on the country.

“When I first started mapping out my visit to Vietnam about a year ago, I was surprised that there wasn’t a more centralized collection of information,” Pulido tells Saigoneer by email. “In actuality, the literature on Vietnam is quite scarce compared to what’s out there for other destinations.”

That, however, is set to change with the new website. Over the past few months, Pulido has been tasked with compiling destination information as well as travel articles tailored to various types of visitors, from foodies to outdoorsy travelers to art lovers. With the website launch earlier this week, however, the work is far from over.

“The greatest challenge in producing an official tourism website is that is has to serve its purpose, which technically can only be tested once the product has been released,” Pulido explains.

She adds: “There’s also this issue with how to condense Vietnam neatly into its best bits. That being said, what you see right now during launch is only a small sample of what we are going to offer users in the near future.”

Moving forward, Pham is optimistic that the new Vietnam Tourism website will perform better than its previous incarnation. At present, Vietnam’s official tourism website receives roughly 3 million visitors a year, however moving forward TAB endeavors to reach an annual total of 9 million visitors by 2018. If all goes well, the TAB founder hopes to see the website become the go-to source of Vietnam tourism information.

In addition to attracting more international visitors, TAB also strives to bring more funding to Vietnam’s tourism industry. According to Pham, Vietnam’s current tourism promotion budget is less than US$2 million per year, while Thailand’s Department of Tourism, for instance, has an annual budget of US$80 million.

[Photo via Vietnam Tourism]

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