Pressing issues to be discussed at 2019 Vietnam Int’t Travel Mart hinh anh 1Ma Rung Lu Quan Homestay in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong offers visitors a getaway from a hustle and bustle of urban life. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA)
– The 7th Vietnam International Travel Mart (VITM) will take place in Hanoi on March 27 – 30, providing a platform for travel firms to exchange experience and discuss pressing issues. Vu The Binh, Standing Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, granted an interview to Vietnam News Agency about the event.

Era of “Green tourism”

Reporter: What will be the highlights of the 7th VITM?

Vu The Binh:
This year, the VITM selects the theme “Green Tourism”, which looks towards environmental and biodiversity protection and address consequences of climate change.

As far as we know, the environment is vital to the future of the mankind and tourism must pioneer in campaigning the society to jointly protect the environment.

This year’s event will be different as it will host various activities to promote green tourism. We will have a series of activities, such as “Green Tourism Forum,” “Vietnam Outbound Tourism – Opportunities and Challenges,” “Tourism in Era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution”... In short, the industry’s 18 hot topics will be tabled during the 4-day fair.

We think that such activities will make the fair different from the others, it will be the one for the advancement and development of the tourism industry. Some 25 countries and territories will take part in the event, including two newcomers – Peru and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). As many as 47 cities and provinces nationwide will also set up booths at the fair.

Pressing issues to be discussed at 2019 Vietnam Int’t Travel Mart hinh anh 2Vu The Binh, Standing Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

As you said, one of the industry’s hot topics in recent years is the difficulties in managing outbound tours. In your opinion, what is the greatest challenge of the issue?

Vu The Binh: There are three basic forms of tourism – inbound tourism, outbound tourism and domestic tourism. In developed countries, all the forms equally develop and we cannot tell which is better than the others.

In Vietnam, inbound tourism is fairly successful and we think that the growth of inbound tourism defines the growth of the industry, but in fact we are also having a very active outbound segment.

According to our statistics, the number of Vietnamese people travelling abroad reaches tens of millions and the organisation of such tours is a big deal.

If we don’t have policies to well manage and develop outbound tours, obviously the outbound tourism will cause negative effects. Some related crises have occurred, for example, some 700 Vietnamese tourists were left stranded by a travel agent in Thailand’s Bangkok in 2013; or 52 Vietnamese tourists disappeared during their trip to Jeju island in the Republic of Korea in 2016. And most recently, 152 Vietnamese visitors went “missing” in Taiwan (China) last year.

It showed that we haven’t had effective measures to manage outbound tours. Because of this, the VITM will provide a forum to discuss this issue.

Pressing issues to be discussed at 2019 Vietnam Int’t Travel Mart hinh anh 3Customers take a look at domestic tours offered by travel agencies at discounted rates in Hanoi. (Photo: VNA).

Fourth Industrial Revolution: Leverage for tourism growth

Reporter: How about the Fourth Industrial Revolution which was of great interest at the previous fair? How does it affect the industry in today’s context?

Vu The Binh: The Fourth Industrial Revolution has become a trend worldwide and all of our economic sectors must adopt policies to accelerate the application of technology. Tourism should also be at the forefront of this trend.

The 2018 VITM will have a forum on how to make use of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in developing tourism, and this year, there was a seminar to review the application of technology from the revolution in the industry, which organisations have made achivements and how we can learn from their experience.

I think that not only this year’s but the next VITMs should also talk about the Fourth Industrial Revolution because it is the only way to boost the tourism growth and increase the industry’s added value.

Reporter: As you just said, this year’s VITM will for the first time see the participation of the DPRK. So do you think that it will be an opportunity for more DPRK tourists to visit Vietnam and vice versa in the future?

Vu The Binh: To many countries, including Vietnam, the DPRK remains a country with many things waiting to be explored. It is a very beautiful country with charming nature and rich traditional culture that can greatly attract tourists.

We expect that meeting with tourism firms from the DPRK for the first time, local media and travel agencies can see many more things in such a country, and people from the DPRK also want to travel and to welcome visitors.

The VITA is ready to help the DPRK develop and promote tourism, for the country to welcome more tourist arrivals.

VITM: Festival for Vietnamese travel agencies

Reporter: How do you think about the success of previous VITMs?

Vu The Binh: The VITMs have provided a platform for travel companies to promote their products and networking and to create a big promotional programme that offer thousands of tours and air tickets at discounted rates.

They have also provided a chance for tourists to find suitable tours and created competition among businesses.

So the success of the VITMs is also that of the businesses who have a role to play in the success of the industry.

Previously, a fair was just a place to introduce beautiful pictures of Vietnam’s nature and destinations. Now it has become a market in which people can trade products, sign contracts and establish partnership.

The VITMs wish to be a festival for Vietnamese travel agencies where they can discuss the industry’s pressing issues, exchange views on tourism development or make recommendations.

Reporter: What is the sector expecting after the 2019 VITM?

Vu The Binh: Tourism is an economic sector so its growth is always what we look forward to. We expect that this year, Vietnam’s tourism will further develop. But there is hardly any economic sector that can grow at a high pace in the long run, so the thing is we are trying to maintain the growth as good as we can.

The 2nd US-DPRK Summit, which was held in Hanoi earlier this year, has created a new push for Vietnam’s tourism. We hope that there will be more pushes this year, created by both outsiders and ourselves. Only then can the industry grow sustainably and the number of tourist arrivals to Vietnam reach 30 million by 2025.

Reporter: Thank you very much!