Foreign tourists visit a historical site in Ha Giang province (Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - Tran Minh Nguyet, 22, a backpacker from HCM City who experienced her first trip to Hanoi early last month, said her smartphone was the one thing she could not live without during her three-day trip to the capital city.

It helped her search for restaurants and hotels, book tickets and get information from applications about must-see destinations in the 1000-year-old capital.

Nguyet is one of the countless tourists using applications and smartphones for their travelling purposes around the country and the world.

Developing smart tourism is believed to be an inevitable trend not only to serve demand but also to catch up with the rest of the world, the Ha Noi Moi (New Hanoi) newspaper reported.

To catch up with this trend, some destinations in Hanoi have built their own applications or applied technology to serve the demands of tourists.

For example, Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam Scientific and Cultural Activities Centre is a pioneer in providing audio guides for tourists in Vietnamese, English, French, Korean, Japanese, Thai and Chinese.
A tourist has to buy a ticket to use the service; it costs 30,000 VND (1.3 USD) in Vietnamese and 50,000 VND (2 USD) in a foreign language.

Meanwhile, the Conservation Centre of Thang Long - Hanoi launched a mobile application called Hoang Thanh Thang Long in January to give tourists free guides to the Thang Long Imperial Citadel. People can open Play Store or App Store on their smartphones and search for “Hoang Thanh Thang Long” to download the application. The free application is presented in Vietnamese, English and Japanese. French and Chinese will be added soon.

The administration of Hoan Kiem district has a website, http://hoankiem360.vn/, to provide tourists information about where to go, what to eat and where to stay in the district. The website is presented in both Vietnamese and English.

However, not all places in Hanoi have been able to launch a mobile application or run a website to better serve tourists.

Nguyen Thi Thuy, of Co Loa Historical Site Management Board in Dong Anh district, said she struggled with how to attract more tourists to the site.

The management board had yet to run a mobile application or a modern website to lure tourists, she said.

The Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts faces a similar situation.
Nguyen Thu Thuy, head of Science and Service Company, said when she was invited to consult at the Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts, the first thing she wanted them do was add an automatic audio guide.

She said this could help the museum lure more tourists. At present, it welcomes fewer people than expected.

According to Thuy, tour guides were often afraid to take tourists to the museum because the guides did not know much about art.

It was necessary to introduce an automatic audio guide system soon, she said.

Vice President of the Vietnam Tourism Association Vu The Binh said smart tourism would help people access information as quickly as possible.

To fully integrate smart tourism, the city must have adequate technical infrastructure, he said.

The city’s Tourism Department has cooperated with the Information and Communication Department to install 36 free Wi-Fi hotspots around Hoan Kiem Lake and in nearby areas.

The administration had also introduced a plan to turn the city into a smart city in the near future, Binh said.

A representative of the tourism department said it had worked with relevant agencies to boost the speed of developing smart tourism.
Binh said building smart tourism is one goal of the city’s target programme of applying information technology in State agencies for 2016 to 2020.

To achieve the target, he said the city would need a consensus of the local people.

In a letter sent to Ha Noi Moi (New Hanoi) newspaper, reader Duc Tu said developing smart tourism was not an easy process. It required a shift in both awareness and action.

Developing smart tourism not only depended on applying technology but also on the quality of service, he said.

He added that it demanded the consensus of the administration, relevant agencies and local people.-VNS/VNA