Executives and experts from the tourism industry gathered in Hanoi on May 30 for an in-depth Tourism Promotion Conference to debate how the lucrative and fast-growing industry can become more successful.

Addressing the conference, Vietnam National Tourism Administration Chairman Nguyen Van Tuan called for the establishment of Vietnamese tourism representative offices in Japan , the Republic of Korea and Russia .

Such a move will promote the industry in some of Vietnam's key partner markets, said Tuan, who also called for further co-operation with important partners of Japan, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and France.

He reported to the conference on the marketing initiatives since the year 2000 and submitted a strategy for tourism development until 2020, which he said will be a long and challenging process requiring a methodical strategy.

Tuan said that important long-term initiatives included joining tourism fairs, organising culture-tourism weeks and inviting foreign travel agents and media to Vietnam .

"We can no longer be vague when advertising Vietnam . We need to focus on our strengths and sufficiently implement all stages of marketing and promotion, including market research, advertising and building a brand name,” Tuan said.

He pointed out some advantages created in the development of Vietnamese tourism thanks to the support of international partners.

These include a project with Luxembourg in developing human resources, a Spanish project for the empowerment for Vietnamese tourism in the period 2011-20, and the European Union (EU)'s Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism (ESRT) Programme.

Franz Jessen, head of the EU delegation, at the conference said tourism was one of the fastest growing and most crucial sectors in the world, and contributed substantially to Vietnam 's growth and job creation. However, he warned that some key challenges are putting the potential of the sector at risk.
"Marketing is one of these key areas where improvements are needed. If there is one single message on tourism marketing I would like to convey, it's that it needs funding," he said.

Jessen said that the spending on marketing per every arrival in Vietnam is around 1 euro (1.3 USD) per year, three times less than Malaysia .

Participants at the conference included representatives from the national and local government, travel companies and international tourism organisations.

Similar conferences will be organised in other big cities to canvas more opinions from leaders and experts in the tourism industry.-VNA