The HCM City tourism industry is increasingly offering new products and services based on what visitors want and how other countries do things.

The city, which has popular tourism destinations like the Cu Chi guerrilla war place tunnels, Ben Thanh Market, Reunification Palace, has developed new ones like inland waterway tours.

With the Saigon and Dong Nai rivers flowing through it and a 900km canal system, the city expects waterway tourism to spearhead the tourism growth.

Nguyen Van Dung, Director of Thien Nien Ky Travel Company, said 99 percent of international visitors to the city choose to visit Cu Chi district and 90 percent choose to travel to the Mekong River for a day or two.

Tours that help visitors discover the city's history, culture, and food are also popular, he said.

In recent times around 10 travel companies have been offering a new product – seeing the city on a motorbike.

It takes tourists through Districts 1, 5, 8, and 7, enabling them to discover the differences in architecture, culture, and people's living style.

CNN International Edition recently carried a report on how to become a part of Saigon by Steve Mueller.

Mueller says: "Being on a scooter in HCM City is the best way to feel a part of the city. It's really an authentic experience. Being side by side with the locals."

La Quoc Khanh, Deputy Director of the city Department of Tourism, said the city has intensified its efforts to diversify tourism products and promotions like the ao dai festival in March, Tourism Day in April, Southern Food Festival in May, Southern fruit festival in June, and the HCM City International Tourism Exhibition in September.

It has also organised several promotional programmes in markets like Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Eastern Europe, and Indonesia, he added.

These efforts partly explain why the city is regularly named in the list of interesting travel destinations.

It was listed as one of the world's 10 fastest-growing destinations between 2009 and 2015, according to MasterCard's annual Global Destinations Cities Index.

It was ranked 48th in a list of 50 safest cities in the world by the UK's The Economist magazine, which ranked cities around the world using 40 metrics that spanned four main categories: digital security, health security, infrastructure safety, and personal safety.

Nguyen Van My, the director of Lua Viet Tours Co, Ltd, said besides its geographical location, the city also has an advantage over other places like good infrastructure and friendliness and professionalism of service at shopping places and restaurants.

But the city has to fix some shortcomings if it wants to "fly high", he said, referring to unclean restrooms and toilets at tourist destinations, robberies, begging, and traffic jams.

"The city's tourism strategists have not come up with a specific strategy to make the sector outstanding.

"The simple thing they have to do is answer common questions visitors ask – what to eat? Where to go? What souvenir to buy?"

Speaking at a seminar on tourism products in 2015 in HCM City last month, Nguyen Viet Anh, Head of the city Department of Tourism's travel division, said the insistence of hawkers is creating a bad impact among foreign tourists.

The People's Committee has tasked his department and other relevant agencies with resolving the problem.

"The department has worked with the police and district authorities to stop thieves, protect visitors at tourist destinations, and establish volunteer teams to assist tourists.

"The department is going to set up a tourism support centre, offering not only information, but also assisting tourists in case of robbery and loss of identity papers."-VNA