V​o T​an Th​anh, director of the VCCI’s HCM City office, told a conference on January 13 that there is huge potential for co-operation in tourism between Vietnam and India (Photo: VNA)
HCM City (VNA) -  In addition to investment and trading, there is also huge potential for cooperation between Vietnam and India in tourism, a conference heard in HCM City on January 13.
 
 Vo Tan Thanh, director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s HCM City office, said the number of Indian travellers to Vietnam increased by nearly 3.5 times in the 2010-15 period to more than 60,000 last year.
 
 India has also become an increasingly attractive travel destination for Vietnamese, especially for pilgrimages, with around 12,000 Vietnamese visiting the country each year, he said.
 
 “Vietnam and India have similar spiritual and cultural features, and therefore Indian spiritual tourism destinations like Bodhgaya and Varanasi attract a lot of Vietnamese visitors.”
 
 India has also emerged as a medical tourism destination alongside Thailand and Singapore, with the sector growing by 27 percent annually, according to Thanh. 
 
 Smita Pant, the Indian consul general in HCM City, said India has become a medical tourism hub for patients from around the world seeking affordable, world-class and professional medical care, with three million visiting the country last year. 
 
 Indian medical tourism is not only known for modern medicine, but also for its 5,000-year-old medicine systems using herbs, massages and various other forms of therapy for many illnesses, she said.
 
 R K Suman, assistant director at the Indian Tourist office in Singapore, said apart from heritage and cultural attractions, India offers niche tourism products like adventure trips, medical, MICE and spirituality tourism, wellness, yoga, golf and others.
 
 India wants to welcome more Vietnamese visitors, he said, adding that Vietnamese passport holders can easily apply for India visas via its electronic tourist visa system.
 Despite the potential, the number of Vietnamese and Indian visitors visiting each other’s countries remains modest, the conference heard.
 
 Bui Ta Hoang Vu, director of the HCM City Department of Tourism, blamed this on the lack of information about each other’s markets. 
 
 To increase the exchange of visitors between HCM City and India in the near future, the city will constantly improve the quality of is tourism products and services and promote them, he said.
 
 “We will also encourage people to go and discover ‘Incredible India’.” 
 
 His department and some tourism companies will attend a tourism fair in Mumbai in February to promote HCM City in India, he said. 
 
 Thanh suggested that the two countries should operate more direct flights to each other’s major destinations, develop suitable products for visitors, improve culinary services, simplify entry and exit procedures, and enhance cooperation in tourism promotion.
 
 The conference was a good opportunity for businesses from both sides to meet, identify business opportunities, develop travel links, strengthen tourism exchanges, delegates agreed.
 
 The conference titled Spiritual, Wellness and Medical Tourism to India was organised by the Indian consulate in HCM City and the VCCI. — VNA