The minister of tourism raised gales of laughter as he addressed a Q&A session in front of Vietnamese lawmakers on Tuesday, when he consistently passed responsibility to his future successor while answering tough questions.
Minister Hoang Tuan Anh is in charge of culture, sports and tourism, but most of the questions he received during the lawmaking National Assembly session in Hanoi were about the country’s troublesome tourist industry.
National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung asked the minister when Vietnam’s tourism could catch up with the likes of Thailand and Malaysia, and Minister Anh did not hesitate to respond that the answer “lies in the hand of the next tourism minister.”
“I dare not answer this,” he said during the televised Q&A session.
The response immediately raised a peal of laughter among hundreds of lawmakers.
The minister went on to address other questions, regarding solutions for further development of the tourist industry or visa issues.
“The quality of tourism relies on several factors, including traffic infrastructure, transport services, natural and social environments, and community awareness,” Minister Anh said, implying that his ministry should not be solely to blame for the beleaguered tourist industry.
Anh said as the minister of culture, sports and tourism, he will take responsibility for “those things that [we] had tried but failed to achieve, as the National Assembly had expected.”
“And our responsibility will be transferred to the next minister,” he said, only to ignite yet another ripple of laughter among lawmakers.
“What else can we do when we only have so little time left?” Minister Anh concluded.
The minister in fact has eight months until his term ends.
In August 2007, the National Assembly combined the Sports and Physical Training Committee, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture and Information to found the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Anh was then appointed as the first leader of the newly-established ministry for the 2007-11 term, and took a second term ending 2016 in August 2011.
Besides passing the responsibility to his successor, Minister Anh spent most of his time at the Q&A session showcasing the positive points of the tourist industry under his supervision.
He said Vietnam’s tourism had grown 1.6 times from 2010 and the country is expected to welcome nearly eight million tourists this year.
International tourist arrivals had fallen for 13 straight months to May 2014 but “have been recovering in the last four months,” he said.
The minister also underlined the strength of the country’s tourism, including “stable politics, diversified attractions, and rich cuisine.”
“Our pho [Vietnamese beef noodle soup] and nem ran [fried spring roll] are known around the world,” he said.
“Our non la [Vietnamese conical hat] is the fourth most attractive items at the [Expo Milano 2015] in Italy.”
Expo Milano 2015 is the universal exhibition running from May 1 to October 31 in Milan, where the Vietnam Pavilion was criticized for its poor decoration and messy organization.
Minister Anh added Vietnamese people are known for their friendliness and hospitality, and those who rip off tourists “do exist, but there are very few of them.”