Experts said Vietnam needs to boost tourism campaigns and improve human sources to attract more visitors from the Middle East, one of the world’s highest spending regions.
Ha Van Sieu, deputy general director of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said at a conference late last week the Middle East is a large tourism market, including 17 countries with nearly 400 million people.
The region is home to the world’s largest oil producers and Middle Easterners are among the world’s highest spenders, he added as cited by Vietnam News Agency.
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Middle Eastern tourists spend 6.5 times more than the global average and 40% of individual tourists spend more than $10,000 per trip.
“The source of tourists from the Middle East has a lot of potential for development and we have also established a long-term economic cooperation relationship, but the number of Middle Eastern tourists to Vietnam remained disappointing,” he added.
Only a few tens of thousands of tourists from the Middle East came to Vietnam before the pandemic and Vietnam still has a lot of room to further exploit this potential market, he said.
Vietnamese Ambassador to Qatar Tran Duc Hung said although Vietnam has a favorable geographical position and is home to a large number of Muslims, the number of tourists from Middle Eastern countries accounted for a small proportion.
“The reason is that information about Vietnam is still very limited in the Middle East,” Hung said.
He said the tourism industry has not yet sped up promotion campaigns to approach the Middle East market while neighboring countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand have been doing so.
He proposed Vietnamese tourism officials increase broadcasting videos introducing Vietnam on regional TV channels and invite travel bloggers or influencers to promote tourism in the Middle East region.
Bui Thi Ngoc Hieu, deputy director of Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism, said the quality of human resources is extremely important.
“We need to offer training courses for tour guides so that they can better understand culture and cuisine of Middle Eastern countries and train guides who know Arabic language to serve guests in the best way,” Hieu said.
In addition, experts also suggested Vietnam relax visa policies for Middle Eastern visitors.
The government has allowed quarantine-free entry and resumed its pre-pandemic visa exemption policy for 24 tourism markets from mid-March with a maximum stay of 15-30 days.
So far this year, the country has received 1.44 million foreign tourists, only 28% of the full-year target of five million.
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