The tourism sector could help protect water resources, said Deputy Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) Nguyen Manh Cuong.

Speaking on September 26 at a celebration of World Tourism Day, Cuong said that the theme for this year's celebration is "Tourism and Water: protecting our common future", and aims to affirm the important role of water resources in tourism, as well as promote efficient usage and protection of the resources.

Kai Partale, tourist sector specialist from an EU-funded Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism Programme, said that responsible water usage should be acknowledged as an important issue due to the fact that many regions are confronted with water scarcity.

"In the context of tourism, tourism activities are seen to impact and increase water problems within the regions tourists travel to," he said.

"In the case of Vietnam, 63 percent of the country's water has its source in neighbouring countries, which creates dependence on water sources, and especially the quality of water, from outside the country," he said.

He added that wasteful use and uncontrolled pollution portrays future challenges for responsible water resources management in the country while the conservation of water could help save money through reducing operational costs.

In the first nine months of this year, Vietnam welcomed nearly 5.5 million foreign visitors, about 10 percent higher than that of the same period last year.

Cuong from VNAT said that with this growth, the number of foreign tourists to Vietnam could reach 7.5 million by the end of this year, meaning the country's tourism hit its target two years earlier than set in the National Action Plan on Tourism between 2013 and 2020, which planned to attract 7-8 million foreign visitors by 2015.

However, he noted that the sector still faces problems, including shortage of funding for tourism promotion activities, improper management over travelling and tourism agencies, shortages of trained competent tour guides and traffic accidents.

He said that co-operation between ministries, sectors and more engagement of private sector in tourism activities were needed to address the problems.

Early this month, the Prime Minister asked localities to take drastic measures to oversee their tourist environment and ensure safety for tourists, emphasising that it helped improve the image of tourist destinations and reduces violations, including robbery, overcharging and other annoyances to tourists.-VNA