Tourism sector to focus on promoting cuisine, heritage hinh anh 1Vietnamese Banh mi – world-class snack (Source: BBC)

Hanoi (VNA) - Following Vietnam’s recipient of two global awards, namely World’s Leading Heritage Destination 2019 at the 26th World Travel Awards (WTA) and Asia’s Leading Culinary Destination at the WTA awards for Asia and Oceania last October, Director General of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) Nguyen Trung Khanh affirmed cuisine and heritage will be of tourism sector’s focus in the coming time.

- How do you assess achievements byVietnam’s tourism sector in 2019?

Nguyen Trung Khanh:Vietnam’s tourism industry welcomed 18 million international tourist arrivals last year, up 16% compared to 2018. It also catered for 85 million domestic tourists. Total revenue from tourism hit 720,000 billion VND.

The tourism sector has set the goal of attracting 20.5 million international visitors in 2020.

We think 2019 was a successful year of Vietnam’s tourism sector, not only reflected through statistics but also global awards, including World’s Leading Heritage Destination 2019, Asia’s Leading Culinary Destination, and World’s Best Golf Destination 2019.

Although our cultural values dated back thousands of years ago, that was the first time Vietnam has been awarded a World’s Leading Heritage Destination. Similarly, despite compliments by international tourists and diplomats on Vietnamese cuisine, 2019 also marked the first time the country has been named Asia’s Leading Culinary Destination.

In the time to come, Vietnam’s tourism sector will further promote culinary and cultural heritage programs to attract more international visitors.

What is the plan of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism to realise the goal of welcoming 20.5 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2020?

Nguyen Trung Khanh:This goal was assigned to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. It will be quite a difficult task, so the industry has already discussed identifying solutions for implementation from the beginning of the new year.

We will implement measures set out in the Tourism Development Strategy until 2030 with a vision to 2035 pending for the Government’s approval. Once approved, all measures will have been actualized into concrete actions.

We also look to improve legal framework, including incentive policies for tourism development. Besides, we will study profoundly markets, especially Northeast Asia and ASEAN, to build corresponding tourism products. The former markets, which include Japan, the Republic of Korea, China and Taiwan have been grown rapidly.

We will also focus on training human resources to meet the required quantity and ensure quality, especially high quality human resources to meet high-class tourism services.

We also pay heed to the management of tourist areas and destinations, ensuring safety and security for tourists.

Tourism sector to focus on promoting cuisine, heritage hinh anh 2Pho has crossed the border of Hanoi to conquer the world (Photo: Doan Bach/Vietnam+)

- Visa policy is also crucial to attract tourists. Honestly, Vietnamese visa policy is still commonly regarded ‘unfriendly’. How would the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism address this issue?

Nguyen Trung Khanh: We have suggested the Government to devise more preferential visa policies for foreign tourists.

We are so pleased that on the last days of 2019, the Prime Minister approved the extension ofvisa exemption for eight key markets of Vietnamese tourism. The achievement is attributed to the close coordination between the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and relevant ministries and agencies in an attempt to lure more tourists to Vietnam.

At a Resolution of the regular Government meeting in November 2019, the Government agreed to extend visa exemption for citizens of 8 countries: Russia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Belarus, for stays in Vietnam until December 31, 2022.

In the coming time, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will continue making recommendations to the Government on visa waiving for countries with strategic partnership with Vietnam.

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