HCM City tourism opens its doors to the world

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{mosimage}The 2006 International Tourism Exhibition (ITE 2006) was recently held in Ho Chi Minh City. For this occasion, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism and the Ho Chi Minh City Peoples Committee have organized a meeting for the more than 50 foreign tourism managers that are working in the tourism industry in the city. The meeting was called to solve problems to pave the way for tourism growth.

Marketing destinations

ITE 2006 was an opportunity for tourism promotion agencies and tourist companies of Vietnam to exchange ideas, introduce destinations, products and service, meet with buyers from North America, Europe, Northeast Asia, and the rest the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and with tourists from Ho Chi Minh City and neighboring provinces.

Nguyen Thi Lap Quoc, the director of the Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Department, said, The increase in the number of tourism companies and organizations and international buyers here at ITE 2006 proves that the city is getting the world interested. It is expected that tourism growth in the city will increase after Vietnam becomes a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Ho Chi Minh City will host the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) in 2009, which will be a first in Vietnam.

In the last few years, the number of foreign tourists coming to the city has increased 18 percent annually. Almost two million foreigners visited the city in 2005 and 1,150,000 in the first six months of this year, a 16 percent growth against the same time last year. And its possible that the city will welcome 2.3 million foreign visitors this year. Under the plan to expand tourism and take advantage of the Trans-Asia Highway, a program has been drawn-up to create overland tours between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In addition, a tour entitled, The Central Heritage Road, and those featuring river and sea tourism, and MICE (meeting-incentive-convention-exhibition) tourism, are drawing foreign tourists and people from around the country.

In addition, the city is putting together a full range of tourist projects such as something at the Can Gio Sea, building the Ethnic Historical and Cultural Park, an art performance just for tourists, and a Pham Ngu Lao Tourist-Trade Quarter. The city is emphasizing tourism promotion, information expansion and the establishment of city tourism representative offices in Japan, the US, and elsewhere.

Tourism boosters

The meeting between tourism companies and tourism managers was very open and exciting. Foreign tourism experts gave constructive recommendations for the development of tourism in the city. Albert Kaindbauer, the general director of the Riverside Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, said 95 percent of tourists he met said that they like Vietnam very much. However, they did not see many new things in the country and did not expect to come back. Albert also said that Hong Kong and Singapore have been successful in creating shopping tours and night tours. Ho Chi Minh City could do something similar but is unable to make it happen. By requiring that shops must close at 11pm, the city has indeed set up a barrier for itself. Jan Peter Van Der Ree, the general director of the Park Hyatt Saigon Hotel, suggested that the city plan night shopping areas and night entertainment programs.

The Sai Gon River passes through Ho Chi Minh City creating very nice views. If the area is re-planned and high-grade services are available, the area could become a distinguished waterway tourist destination, said Tan YK, the director of the Holiday Tour & Travel (Vietnam) Company.

Several tourism experts also recommended that the city prohibit the turbulent construction along the banks of the river, and instead quickly build a tourist port there.

Ayman Naguib, the representative of the Egy Thai Tour & Travel, said that it was luckily that he has come to Vietnam to seek partners at this time when the exhibition was being held. He said his company wants to create new tours and Vietnam is among its new destinations. Nancy Shi from the Uni-Orient Travel Inc. of the Philippines said that in the near future her company would like to bring to Vietnam groups of about 20 tourists each. Filipino tourists like to visit Vietnam for sight seeing, swimming and shopping at the Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City, said Nancy.

Nguyen Huu Tin, the chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Peoples Committee, said, The recommendations regarding the directions for development of tourist products, MICE tours, shopping, ecology and more will be collected for consideration and application. We will make policies to help the citys tourism grow robustly in the near future.


(Source: Vietnam Economic News)

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