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Attracting more American tourists

VNECONOMY updated: 13/04/2005

The US is the third country to have largest number of tourists coming to Vietnam annually, following China and Japan. In year 2004, 272.400 American tourists visited Vietnam. In the first quarter this year, the number of US tourist traveling to Vietnam totaled 94,784, up by 23% over last yearís same period. However, that is just a modest figure in compared with 50 million American tourists spending holiday abroad annually. Deputy General Director of the Vietnam Administration for Tourism Pham Tu talked with Vietnam Economic Timesí Duc Vuong.

What is your assessment of the US market for tourism and its impact on Vietnamís tourism industry?

In my opinion, US is one of the world leading countries in terms of its tourism industry. In year 2002, its incomes from tourism totaled US$66.5 billion, as much as 14% the global revenues from this industry. In the same year, 50 million American tourists traveled abroad, spending a total amount of money of US$58 billion, as much as 12.2% the global expenditure on traveling. That is the reason why many countries around the world consider the US an important market to attract more tourists from there. For Vietnam, the US is a significant tourism market. For the last 10 years, the US has been one of the five countries with largest number of tourists choosing Vietnam to be their destination. The number of American tourists coming to Vietnam grew by 12.9% on the average to 220,000 in year 2003 and 272,473 last year.

How have Vietnam and the US cooperated so far in the field of tourism industry since the signature of the Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA)?

We have well prepared for implementation of bilateral commitments in terms of tourism as specified in the BTA. Many new legal documents for this field have been compiled in accordance with such commitments so as to drive travel enterprisesí operation in the direction of those. International cooperation and integration is also topics for conferences and meetings related to tourism so as to improve awareness of managers. Vietnam has facilitated several US reporters, film makers, etc to come to Vietnam for the purpose of introducing Vietnamís tourism products to American tourists. We also co-ordinate closely with the Ministry of Culture, Vietnamese embassies to and representative offices in many countries, as well as relevant agencies to push up tourism promotion activities.

But what has been done is still modest. Number of tourists as well as amount of FDI capital from the US is still small. What is your comment?

The implementation of the BTA and exploitation of the US market for tourism has not been as expected. Only 0.5% of US tourists spending holiday abroad come to Vietnam annually while the number of those traveling to Thailand is much higher. US represents only 0.8% of total foreign direct investment in Vietnamís tourism industry.

What are solutions for better exploitation of this important market?

First of all, we should create the right environment for foreign investment in the tourism industry and improve infrastructures for tourism. Second, policies on tourism should be adjusted for both conformity with the BTA and defense of national independence and interests. We should also attach more importance to information about the USís legal systems, requirements, business customs, administrative procedures, policies, etc.

What is your advice for travel companies for better exploitation of this market?

In my opinion, they should study more thoroughly the BTA, promote research of the market and create more products with greater attractiveness to US tourists. Each enterprise should have its own suitable and long-term strategy for this market with competitive tourism products and services, especially those meeting international standards.           

Duc Vuong

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