Ways of developing Vietnam ’s tourism industry during the country’s international integration process topped the agenda of a seminar in Hanoi on June 29.

While addressing the seminar, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan highlighted the tourism industry’s role and the important contribution it makes to the national economy, noting that the sector annually caters for more than 10 million domestic holidaymakers and over 4 million foreign tourists.

Nhan, who is also Head of the State Steering Committee on Tourism, said that Vietnam has just been listed as one of the top 40 countries and territories in the world to welcome the largest numbers of visitors.

“ Vietnam holds a lot of advantages in terms of its countryside, culture and history to develop its tourism industry. However, we also need to uphold cultural and family values – the cradle of our nation’s traditions – to enhance the uniqueness and attractiveness of Vietnam ’s tourism sector,” he said

Regarding solutions to develop tourism as the country is integrating into the global economy, Nhan said that the first measure is to modernise exit and entry procedures and upgrade 50-60 national tourist destinations to international standards.

Having emphasised the necessity to train professional managers to improve the quality and efficiency of tourist services, the deputy PM also pointed out a number of shortcomings that face the industry, including a poor transport network, untrained staff, unattractive tourist products and a lack of promotions.

According to Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Tran Chien Thang, the tourism sector had received only 250,000 overseas tourists during its first three decades from 1960-1990. However, Vietnam now ranks fifth among Southeast Asian countries in terms of the number of foreign visitors and revenues from tourism.

The tourism industry has created jobs for millions of workers and helped to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty, restore traditional craft villages, revive cultural traditions and foster socio-economic development in many parts of the country.

Despite the sector’s efforts, the number of overseas holidaymakers to Vietnam remains low when compared with other regional countries such as Thailand , Singapore and Malaysia./.