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OP-ED: Attitude is the underlying problem of Vietnam’s tourist industry

Saturday, April 25, 2015, 06:57 GMT+7
OP-ED: Attitude is the underlying problem of Vietnam’s tourist industry
An Australian tourist pays a taxi driver after he was overcharged by nearly $18 for a 3km ride in Ho Chi Minh City in this August 12, 2012 file photo.

Editor’s note: A reader simply calling herself Thuy argues that among the endless list of problems and challenges facing Vietnamese tourism, the underlying problem is attitude. The opinions here are solely hers.

It's very good that you are bringing attention to the problems that Vietnam continues to face even after decades of the government discussing tourism development.

I've worked in the tourist/service/hospitality sector in the U.S. and Vietnam for more than 20 years so it is very frustrating to see the country’s lack of effort and interest in facilitating foreign visitors and pursuing cost-effective marketing opportunities.

The list of problems and challenges are endless but I think the underlying problem is attitude - it is the arrogant and overconfident attitude that 'Vietnam is a beautiful country with so many wonderful cultural and historical traditions that people will surely come regardless of the obstacles in place'.

Nearly everyone in the travel and tourist industry has raised the issue of the high cost of entering Vietnam.

The tourist visa fee is ridiculously high compared to neighboring countries. How are poor countries like Laos and Cambodia able to offer such low-cost visas? And how can their visa on arrival procedures be so much simpler than Vietnam’s?

Although Vietnam is supposed to be more advanced [than these countries], it cannot implement such simple procedures.

When I read that the Ministry of Finance was planning to increase the visa fee, I nearly choked with laughter. 

At a critical time when newspapers are discussing the downturn of tourism and addressing issues and concerns, how do authorities respond? They think of increasing visa fees!

I wish they take the time to listen to people in the industry and take their advice. These are the people who work directly with foreign travel companies and communicate directly with tourists, so they know their needs.

Of course, there are numerous other challenges but this is the most obvious problem that should be fixed first to get tourists to come to Vietnam, before the government moves on to address such issues as crime, scams, tourist cheating, and unsafe infrastructure.

I live in Ho Chi Minh City and I never feel safe walking in the city because I have been robbed several times.

I fear to take a picture because someone might drive by and grab my iPhone. I hold tightly my handbag or swing it over me for fear of having it snatched. I’m even afraid of stopping by the street to open my wallet because I might get robbed. I can't wear jewelry because I don't want to attract the attention of a robber.

These are not comfortable at all.

I don't feel this way when I'm in Hong Kong or Bangkok or anywhere else in the world.

As a person who works in the service sector, it’s frustrating for me to be affected by the drop in tourists just because relevant authorities are not doing enough to attract visitors.

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