Vietnamese govt trying to boost gloomy tourism (China Daily)

Tourists travel on bamboo boats at the Van Long natural reserve, Vietnam’s largest natural reserve of wetland, in Ninh Binh province, May 13, 2015. [Photo/CFP]

HANOI – Amid a decrease in number of foreign arrivals in Vietnam in the past months, the Vietnamese government has discussed measures to boost the country’s tourism, including facilitation of visa granting and establishment of a tourism promotion fund.

The information was released at a regular press briefing following a cabinet meeting held in capital Hanoi on Wednesday, state-run news agency VNA reported on Thursday.

According to Nguyen Van Nen, head of the Government Office at the press briefing, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will issue instructions on the matter while relevant agencies and localities are urged to brainstorm on how to overcome weaknesses and fully tap tourism potential.

Statistics by the General Statistics Office showed that Vietnam is expected to receive some 3.275 million person-times of foreign tourists in the first five months of 2015, down by 12.6 percent year-on-year.

The drop of foreign arrivals in Vietnam was attributed to unfavorable global economic developments, such as the appreciation of US dollar, the depreciation of euro and Japanese yen, falling oil prices, which undermined people’s willingness to spend money on travel, as well as ineffective coordination between the National Administration of Tourism and localities, VNA quoted Nen as saying.

However, foreign arrivals, especially those from China, have been witnessing a decline since last mid-May, when a series of riots hit foreign companies in southern and central Vietnam, leaving at least four Chinese nationals dead, around 20 foreign factories burned down and some 1,100 foreign companies affected.

At the cabinet meeting, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) suggested setting up a fund for tourism promotion in the context of falling numbers of foreign visitors to Vietnam.

The fund is estimated to have 2-2.5 trillion Vietnamese dong ($92.6-115.7 million) after five years of establishment. Some 30 percent of the money will be allocated from state budget while the rest is from various sources of the society, said the ministry.

The fund, expected to be set up by Vietnamese prime minister, will work to promote tourism, expand markets, open representative offices of Vietnamese tourism in overseas markets, conduct human resource training, assist to develop tourism products, protect environment, and ensure safety and security for tourists among others.

The MCST also proposed to expand unilateral visa exemption to citizens from Vietnam’s key tourism markets and strategic or comprehensive partners, reported local VNExpress online newspaper on Thursday.

Currently, Vietnam unilaterally exempts visa for citizens from seven countries including Japan, South Korea, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Russia and exempts visa on the basis of reciprocity for those from nine countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

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