Over 100 representatives from the tourism sector met in central coastal Khanh Hoa province on June 9 in a seminar discussing how Vietnam can become a more attractive destination for foreign cruise tourists.

The seminar, themed “Developing cruise tourism,” was organised by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) in conjunction with the People’s Committee of Khanh Hoa province.

Tourism officials were joined at the discussions by economic experts and members of domestic and international travel agencies.

Addressing the event, VNAT Director General Nguyen Van Tuan stressed the important position of Vietnam on the East Sea transport line and declared that this would be advantageous to the country in its bid to develop cruise tourism.

According to VNAT statistics, Vietnam greeted over 285,000 cruise travellers in 2012, six times more than in 2011. In the first five months of this year, the number was already 51 percent higher than in the same period last year.

The number of tourists was unstable, sometimes dropped drastically since 1999, due to the global economic downturn and Vietnam’s unattractive programmes to attract travel agencies and tourists.

A representative from the Singapore Tourism Board said that cruise tourism is becoming increasingly popular in Asia and Vietnam and other coastal ASEAN countries should capitalise. They revealed that 25 new ships will be built in the continent, increasing the capacity in the cruise tourism sector by 15 percent before 2017.

The representative suggested Vietnam invest promptly in upgrading its infrastructure, technology and human resources, while also implementing reforms to customs procedures.

Participants at the seminar also discussed how the country could diversify the activities it offers tourists and enhance its image internationally to potential visitors. They exchanged their knowledge and experience and proposed the creation of a market resource network for cruise travellers.-VNA