A Vietnam tourism forum running from September 17-22 in Seoul, the Republic of Korea (RoK), is helping tourist agencies from Vietnam and the RoK build partnerships.

The event is part of the ongoing Vietnamese Tourism-Culture Festival 2014 hosted by THE Vietnam National Administration of Tourism in the cities of Seoul and Gwangchu.

Vietnamese Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism Hoang Tuan Anh and Vietnamese Ambassador to RoK Pham Huu Chi co-chaired the event.

The forum was attended by the Director of Korea Tourism Organisation, Byun Choo Suk, and representatives from Korean tourist agencies.

Speaking at the forum, Minister Anh highlighted Vietnam’s substantial tourism potential and its ecosystem diversity and landscapes, saying that the country possesses a rich cultural identity similar to the RoK, as well as a great number of tangible and intangible cultural heritage recognised by UNESCO.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Chi said the two partners share a potential for cultural exchange, while expressing his belief that cooperation between the two countries’ tourism sectors would provide services low in cost but high in quality for Korean tourists.

The Vietnamese diplomat suggested the host come up with incentives and visa policies to encourage Vietnamese tourists to visit the country.

In the past five years, Korea has become Vietnam’s second largest tourism market. Statistics showed that the number of Korean tourists to Vietnam surged significantly, from 450,000 arrivals in 2008 to 700,000 in 2012, up by 12 percent each year.

In 2013 alone, Vietnam welcomed 750,000 Korean tourists, whilst 2014’s January-August period recorded 550,000 Korean visitors to Vietnam, up 9 percent compared to the same period last year.-VNA