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'Crystal ball' predictions for Vietnam in 2016

Thursday, January 07, 2016, 11:59 GMT+7

Ah... a lovely, sunny new year has arrived. So what’s on the agenda this year? I took a look in my 'crystal ball' because I’m so sure I can predict the future. Here’s some stuff I’ve found out about.

EDUCATION

Commencing the year in great style, VTV7, a new educational television channel has just started broadcasting. With a mix of English programs for language learners and Vietnamese shows aimed primarily at elementary and pre-schools, I believe it will be a roaring success and a marvelous innovation. High school subjects and more advanced topics in maths, physics and other disciplines are also on the menu. Although there isn’t an English website yet, you can watch it in Vietnamese here. Shame I’m not knowledgeable about making videos, I could have been famous!

Vietnam is about to accept the qualifications of students and professionals from other ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries and vice versa – for Vietnamese looking for work in neighboring countries. For lecturers seeking advanced training and education, it could be a fantastic opportunity. Although this will put pressure on the local education system to improve its quality rapidly, this is not a bad thing. 

Confidence in communication and English skills were identified as two out of several key areas that will need to be addressed. Many young Vietnamese professionals I have spoken to hope the experience they could gain from the more advanced nation members of the association will lead to better jobs here. Time to seize that opportunity and study in a new culture!

TOURISM

Rapidly increasing hotel construction and good, modern road and air access to tourist attractions such as Phu Quoc Island, the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and its famous caves, the Mekong Delta, and particularly Kieng Giang Province will highlight the need for the tourist industry and authorities to speed up reforms.

Inbound tourist numbers are bouncing up and down, adding pressure on increasing inbound tourism agencies to deliver more customers so the issue of increasing visa wavers to 30 days and including more countries in the list should be inevitable this year.

The need from local authorities regarding wider and better access to staff training up to the level of international tourism to create more jobs to service the hotel boom has become an urgent priority. I think we can expect a large overhaul of vocational education to begin during this year.

Serious questions about restricting hotel heights in Nha Trang and recent speculation about the same issue in Da Nang will be in the news this year too, I suspect. Preserving the beach line for attractiveness to tourists will be a hot topic in 2016. However I hope there’s no more trouble from private hotel beach security staff!

TRANSPORT

Top of my pick for this one is buses. I asked some of my students about this last week with everyone clearly terrified of traveling at night or on large highways by bus. Their solution was intriguing: banning buses between midnight and dawn between cities. Probably impossible around Tet, but for most of the year it might achieve that reduction in the road death toll that has recently been called for by Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. Make more monorails, I say!

Helmets; more than two thousand children die in traffic accidents and the leading cause of death is head injury. I’m hoping the national government will increase the penalties for thoughtless parents – this would be another way to reach that ‘death reduction goal’. I say ‘thoughtless’ because many parents have a helmet, so what about their kids? Another point is; if you have the money for petrol to take the kids to school every day, then surely a helmet is reasonable – how much is your kid’s life worth?

I mentioned staying on your side of the road in another article. While my 'crystal ball' is not sure about a cop crackdown on riders and drivers, I’m sure many more local governments will look again at re-engineering the roads by installing lane dividers at intersections and ‘hot spots’ selected by the traffic cops as needing a different design. Da Nang did this a while ago with a major intersection coming from a bridge with a significant reduction in accidents. Hooray for Da Nang!

LIFE

I predict we’ll have more sunshine, a blisteringly hot summer and one small typhoon this year. On the downside, less water for farmers and perhaps power generation but on the upside, I believe water restrictions will become a part of summer life in central Vietnam. I also predict beer and cigarettes and hamburgers will not change price however the underground sections of the Ho Chi Minh City metro will become great fishing ponds, saving the fish populations in the city’s canals.

Yep! A fine year ahead for everyone! Viva Vietnam!

Stivi Cooke

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