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Speech by Mr. Nguyen Trung Khanh – Director General of VietNam National Administration of Tourism at The United Nations 2045 Roundtable

Dear Mr. Le Tuan Phong, Chairman of Binh Thuan Provincial People’s Committee,

Dear Mr. Kamal Malhotra, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam,

Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, we appreciate the forum “United Nations 2045 Roundtable: A distinguished city” and would like to thank Novaland Group for coordinating today’s meeting. This will be a good opportunity for us to share information, discuss and agree on actions to contribute to helping Vietnam’s tourism industry in general and Binh Thuan’s tourism sector in particular to overcome difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and prepare for a new stage of development.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Over the past years, backed by the support of authorities at various levels, Vietnam’s tourism sector and its tourism businesses has seen remarkable growth. In the 2015-2019 period, international arrivals to Vietnam increased by 2.3 times, from 7.9 million to 18 million at the rate of 22.7% per year. The number of domestic visitors increased from 57 million to 85 million with the rate of 10.5% per year. The total revenue from tourism increased from VND 355 trillion to VND 755 trillion, an average annual increase of 20.7%. In 2019, the tourism industry contributed over 9.2% of the country’s GDP. According to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the competitiveness of Vietnam’s tourism increased 12 places from 75/141 in 2015 to ranking 63/140 in 2019.

However, in 2020, the outbreak of Covid-19 had a direct impact on global tourism in general and Vietnam’s tourism in particular. International arrivals to Vietnam only reached about 3.7 million, down 80% compared to 2019. Despite stimulus programs launched the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, localities and enterprises, the number of domestic tourists only reached 56 million, a year-over-year decrease of 34.1%. The total revenue from tourists in 2020 was VND 312,000 billion, a decrease of about 58.7% compared to 2019. Up to now, about 95% of international travel businesses ceased their operations. The average occupancy rate of the whole country is about 20-25%. In some key tourism provinces and cities, many hotels have been forced to close or change their use purposes.

Currently, although the Covid-19 pandemic is believed to remain complicated and unpredictable, with vaccination being rolled out globally, we are confident that tourism will soon recover. Therefore, it is necessary to promote investment, restructure products, set market orientations, intensify communication, carry out advertising campaigns, and improve the competitiveness of the national and local tourism sector as well as of each destination, including Phan Thiet in Binh Thuan province.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The strategy to develop tourism products to 2025, with a vision to 2030 has also identified the attraction of investment and development of MICE tourism as one important orientation to which special attention is to be paid in Vietnam. Many countries in the region and the world have directed their attention to the development of MICE tourism, recognizing this as a category of highly efficient and sustainable tourism product. MICE tourism can be associated with a type of high-class tourism with many distinctive features, with high requirements of professionalism and quality of facilities, technology, transport and human resources.

Firstly, hosting venues are the core factor that creates the success of MICE tourism. A hosting venue must have the ability to provide infrastructure as well as lodging facilities for MICE tourists. Along with the development of technology, the availability of modern technical equipment has an increasingly greater impact on the customer choice of hosting venue. Therefore, the development of facilities cannot be separated from the application of modern and advanced technologies to serve MICE tourism service providers.

Secondly, the convenience of transportation. MICE tourism is characterized by a large or very large size of tourist group whose members travel together at a single time. Therefore, a MICE tourism center is supposed to provide transport convenience, both for air and land travel.

Thirdly, human resources. MICE tourists are often business travelers and businessmen who both possess high purchasing power and require a high level of professionalism and staff quality. In order to meet this need, MICE destinations are required to have team of a well-trained and professional human resources. They are even required to have higher diplomatic skills than those working in other types of tourism.

In addition to the above core services, MICE customers have great demands for additional services including sports, health care, sightseeing, shopping, and so on. Therefore, to become a major MICE tourism center, a destination needs to be able to offer large-scale conference – resort, relaxing and entertainment complexes.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Binh Thuan is endowed with a long coastline. It is home to one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in Asia – Pacific, as named by Skyscanner. The province’s many landscapes, historical sites, and a unique indigenous culture are definitely what MICE tourists long for. Besides, Phan Thiet’s mild and stable climate ensures the city can welcome visitors all year round, free from the worry about seasonal weather patterns. Phan Thiet also has a favorable socio-economic position: It is the gateway to the Southeastern key economic region, one of the pillars of the “Ho Chi Minh City – Da Lat – Phan Thiet – Nha Trang” golden tourism quadrangle. Recently, massive investments by local and international corporations in high-end resort and entertainment complexes have brought a new appearance to Phan Thiet. Mui Ne is favored by foreign tourists, who dubbed it the “resort capital” of Vietnam.

We can say that Phan Thiet has all the basic elements to develop MICE tourism. However, as we all know, MICE tourism is a type of high-end tourism with many distinctive features and high requirements of professionalism. To become a large MICE travel center, we need to pay attention to the following factors:

Firstly, it is necessary to quickly invest in upgrading facilities and venues with large capacity, enabling with high-tech facilities and technology so they can host large-scale and professional events and conferences. Besides, it is also necessary to invest in quality infrastructure, in research and applying modern technology (application of artificial intelligence – AIWS City – as you have discussed – is an impressive initiative).

Secondly, it is necessary to improve traffic connectivity with source markets and centers. The absence of an international airport is a crucial limitation for Phan Thiet if it wants to develop MICE tourism. In addition, it is necessary to plan and speed up investment to develop a highways network connecting Binh Thuan with Ho Chi Minh City as well as other neighboring provinces.

Thirdly, improve the quality and quantity of accommodation facilities, especially in the area that can be conveniently connected to event centers; Invest in building complexes for conferences, hotels, entertainment, shopping, etc… Besides, it is necessary to diversify and improve the quality of supporting tourism products, especially entertainment activities at night time, to extend the tourist’s stay and encourage their spending. It is also necessary to create product chains and promote communication and promotion to the source markets at home and abroad.

Fourthly, there should be a plan to improve the quality of workers in tourism, especially highly skilled workers who can meet the needs of high-end customer segments.

To overcome shortcomings, it is necessary to involve all levels of government from central to local; investment commitments from corporations, and unprecedented breakthrough initiatives from domestic and foreign individuals and organizations. As for Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, we are committed to constantly accompanying the development of Binh Thuan’s tourism in the orientation of investment in product development, promotion, business connection and human resources development. On August 24, 2020, the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism signed Decision No. 2354 / QD-BVHTTDL recognizing Mui Ne tourist area (Binh Thuan province) as a National tourist area. We expect that this will serve as the basis and opportunity to upgrade the position of Phan Thiet – Binh Thuan’s tourism.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I hope and humbly request all stakeholders to continue to support and contribute so Phan Thiet will quickly become an outstanding tourist destination in the region and the world, a reliable MICE tourism center. This will provide the driving force for Binh Thuan’s tourism sector to create breakthroughs in its development.

May all of you have an abundance of health and may our forum achieve great success.