International tourist arrivals to Vietnam have been down
Official says hard to stop tourist arrivals decline
International tourist arrivals have been falling over the past few months, but it is difficult to immediately halt this downward trend.
Vietnam has got an estimated 2.9 million international tourist arrivals in the first five months, down 1.4% year-on-year, marking the first time since 2009 that the number of foreign tourists has been dropping for several months in a row.
Although many cases of tourists being robbed or cheated have been reported and several visitors have complained about unattractive tour packages, they are not the main reasons for the fall in tourist arrivals. “The major cause is the tough economic situation,” said Nguyen Manh Cuong, deputy general director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.
“Given the economic downturn, people around the world are tightening their spending, leading to a decline in tourism demand. Vietnam is also caught in this downward spiral, so the number of inbound tourists has been dipping.”
Still, the number of foreign tourists coming to HCMC and some central localities has been growing regardless of the overall gloomy picture, he told the Daily.
However, he admitted Vietnam had not established a supply chain of travel and relevant services to gain an edge in competition with neighboring countries. Some neighboring countries have still recorded growth in international tourist arrivals despite the economic woes.
A number of localities have just launched tourism stimulus programs at the request of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. It is now too soon to assess the impacts of such programs, said Cuong.
“It is difficult to say whether we can immediately arrest the decline in tourist arrivals or not since many issues remain unresolved, such as visa exemptions for some key markets, or the lack of an agency for tourism promotion abroad. We’re making recommendations to the Government on these issues,” he said.
In the current difficult situation, demand stimulus is a must. However, the recently- launched stimulus programs do not offer as big discounts as in 2009.
Cuong explained the Government had not provided support this time, so enterprises must rely on their own resources. Four years ago, the Government offered tax reductions and tax payment extensions, allowing enterprises to roll out generous discounts.
“We’re asking for some policies to assist the enterprises participating in tourism stimulus programs, but have not received the nod,” he said.
The tourism industry aims for 7.2 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, up 5.15% over 2012, and 35 million domestic tourists, up 7.69%. The targeted revenue is VND190 trillion, a rise of 18.75% against last year.