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Smiles, thank yous could boost tourism
Update: Monday, July 13, 2015
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Vietnamese people should consider tourists their family, Deputy Minister Vu Duc Dam said at a ceremony held on July 8 to mark the 55th anniversary of the tourism sector.

He called on the people to express their national pride, patriotism and responsibility by taking action. They should smile, say thank you, pick up garbage left on the road and not elbow others out of their way in a crowd, he said.

"Simple gestures like smiling and saying hello are very important to develop tourism and national culture," he said. "They leave good impressions on foreigners."

Although Vietnam's tourism industry has seen great achievements in recent years, it's still inferior to others in the region, he said. Tourism officials should work on creative solutions to develop the sector, as tourism plays an important role in the country's socio-economic development.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism also announced the winners of the 2014 Vietnam Tourism Awards at the ceremony.

The awards, hosted by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) and the Vietnam Tourism Association, honoured 70 outstanding travel agencies, hotels, services providers and carriers in the country.

Categories included the top 10 five-star hotels, top 10 four-star hotels, top 10 three-star hotels, top 10 domestic tour operators, best restaurants and best shopping facilities.

The awards aim to encourage travel businesses to improve their performance and service quality, lifting their brand names and enhancing their competitiveness during the international integration process.

The top five most attractive destination awards were given to the Vietnam Women's Museum, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature and National First University), Ba Na Hills Mountain Resort (Da Nang) and the My Son relic site in the central province of Quang Nam.

Nguyen Bich Van, director of the Women's Museum, said she was happy to receive the only prestigious national tourism sector award.

"The award is based on tourists' remarks and service's quality," she said. "It's an honour and motivation to continue improving our services. We're devoted to development."

A conference was held on the occasion in Ha Noi, seeking solutions to the problems facing Vietnam's tourism sector. It opened with a video clip of the massive Son Doong Cave provided by the VNAT.

The screening showed that Vietnam's natural treasures and rich culture give it the potential to really develop its tourism industry, said Hoang Tuan Anh, minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

"However, travel statistics haven't met our potential and service quality hasn't satisfied tourists," he said.

Many State-level managers, travel agents and specialists participated in the conference. They discussed improving awareness about tourism development, and policies to develop tourism and service quality.

Recently, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung issued a decision to waive visa fees for Belarus, the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain for stays of less than 15 days.

During the conference, the delegations discussed plans to attract more and more visitors from these countries. Meetings with partners in these countries will be organised in the coming months to look at new ways to collaborate.

They also discussed the organisation and operations of the Fund for Tourism Development Support, which will be established by the government this year, as well as measures to improve the competitiveness of Vietnam's tourism.

The VNAT will receive journalists from six countries, who will take part in press trips to Vietnam from August to October.

Vietnam will attend the World Travel Market 2015 organised in London in November to promote tourism here.

The country now has approximately 1,500 international travel agencies and over 15,500 tour guides. 

Source: VNS