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Wrap-up of stories about Vietnam’s tourism you might have missed in April

Monday, May 04, 2015, 18:01 GMT+7

The issue of Vietnam’s troubled tourist industry was extensively covered by Tuoi Tre News for the entirety of April, and a wrap-up of what was discussed is necessary as you might have missed some of the series.

We received many comments and thoughtful suggestions from readers, including expats, tourists, overseas Vietnamese, and local citizens, on the possible reasons behind the industry’s downfall and solutions for improvement.

It all began with the unpleasant statistical data which said Vietnam had suffered a drop in tourist arrival numbers for the 10th straight month, which cast doubt on the country’s tourism appeal.

We thus talked to many industry insiders, encouraging them to explain why Vietnam is losing its tourism appeal, with the most significant reason being the rigid visa rules the country applies to tourists.

It is the Vietnamese visa rules that have provoked the most feedback from insiders, tourists and expats. It is also worth noting that the Ministry of Finance is mulling higher visa fees for foreigners and overseas Vietnamese.

Luong Hoai Nam, former deputy head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, says the current visa policy is discouraging international tourists from visiting the country, whereas costly visas are among many factors that one expat believes are the reasons why tourists do not return to Vietnam.

Even so, the head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism has admitted that it will take Vietnam a long time to ease visa rules.

Besides the visa problem, other factors that have driven tourists away from Vietnam include substandard tour guides and volatile hotel prices. Others say Vietnam’s problems with its tourist industry are not all about the visa hassle, but many other things.

A seasoned industry insider, meanwhile, believes that attitude is the underlying problem of Vietnam’s tourist industry.

To look on the bright side, many readers say they are strongly against complaints that Vietnam is no longer attractive to international holidaymakers.

Anh Tuan Huynh, who lives in Canada, reckons that costly visas, dual pricing and scams are not exclusive to Vietnam, a view that is echoed by Jeremie Larin, a Canadian tourist, who thinks people need more common sense in judging the issue.

Similarly, some international tourists have defended Vietnamese tour guides, saying they are not that bad.

A former American economist who has cycled across Vietnam several times also said he will still return to the country despite some bad experiences he had had with it.

On a smaller scale, talking about Ho Chi Minh City alone, the question of whether the city is losing its soul has also been particularly noticed. One expat thinks the answer is yes, while another simply disagrees.

We appreciate all of these contributions, and understand that those who joined the discussion want someone from the authorities to listen to them and make the situation better. We too have the same hope.

Sadly, it seems like we are not being heard. Vietnam continued reporting a drop in international tourist arrival numbers for the 11thstraight month, apparently because of the reasons discussed in the series.

Nevertheless, our discussion on the topic will not end just because of that. We still welcome your stories, whether to tell us your experiences in Vietnam or to offer solutions to improve things.

Let us all believe that Vietnam’s tourism authorities will not wait until the country’s international arrival numbers fall for 12 months in a row withouttaking any action.

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