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Vietnam india tourism cooperation an assessment of status and potential

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21 Vietnam-India Tourism Cooperation: An Assessment of Status and Potential Le Thi Thanh Huyen Abstract The tourism industry of Vietnam and India plays a relatively similar role for the development of the country and holds a rather important position.Tourism cooperation between Vietnam and India is a collaborative content that both sides have been interested in, and are included in the agenda of discussions to find solutions to develop tourism industry in Vietnam and India However, the situation of tourism activities between Vietnam and India is still very limited, much below their potential The number of tourists between the two countries is much smaller than that of in Southeast Asia counterparts such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia There are many obstacles and weaknesses in tourism activities from the both sides Communication and promotion activities for tourism between the two countries are inadequate Besides, the quality of tourism services and transport infrastructure is not good enough to adapt However, there is a bright spot that the growth rate of Vietnam-India tourism continues to be maintained at a relatively high level in recent years The potential of tourism cooperation between the two countries is enormous due to the effective prospect of economic cooperation in particular and bilateral relations in general In order to promote tourism activities, both countries need solutions to enhance information and promotion for tourism products in particular and social environment of the two countries in general, as well as improve the quality of tourism services Keywords: Vietnam, India, tourism, Tourism cooperation, FTS system 334 India-Vietnam Enhancing Partnership Introduction According to World Tourism Organization, “tourism comprises the activities of persons traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes” (UNWTO) Tourism plays a big role in the development of a country at both macro and micro levels; has a great influence on other fields and activities of a country, from economic and trade development, helps promote culture - society, or creating a country’s image and nation branding As for Vietnam and India, tourism acting as a natural and positive factor will strongly promote deeply economic and trade cooperation Although Vietnam has been promoting the attraction of tourists from India, in fact, the number of Indian tourists coming to Vietnam and Vietnamese visitors to India is very small compared to other markets in the Asian region Considering the potential, analysis in the following section shows that tourism activities between the two countries are still much below their potential This paper will focus on answering questions: What is the status of tourism activities between Vietnam and India? How is tourism potential between the two countries? What are advantages and blocks in tourism development between Vietnam and India? By the method of analyzing documents from oficial statistical agencies of India and Vietnam, and consulting experts, the paper will look at the overall perspective of tourism cooperation between both sides putting in bilateral relations between the two countries The tourism potential assessment is based on the analytical framework of the Functioning Tourism System (FTS) proposed by A.Gunn (1988) and edited by Shelby R Herrin (2015) Situation of Tourism Activities Between the Two Countries Overview of Vietnam and India tourism The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Report (2018) explains that the role and position of tourism for each country is quite similar Important indicators, such as total contribution of tourism and travel to the GDP of each country in 2017 was 9.4%; direct employment contributions of Vietnam and India were 4.7% and 5% respectively, total direct and indirect employment contributions were 7.6% and 8.0% respectively Besides, predictive indicators by 2028, the total contributions to Vietnam-India Tourism Cooperation: An Assessment of Status and Potential 335 GDP of Vietnam and India respectively would be 9.8% and 9.9%; its contribution to total direct employment is expected 4.9% and 5.3%, and total direct and indirect employment is expected to reach 8.0% and 8.4%; visitor exports is expected to reach 4.7% and 5.1% Specifically: The direct contribution to GDP: In Vietnam, tourism and travel contributed 12,965.5 million USD, equivalent to 5.9% of GDP in 2017 and is expected to increase by about 6.0% per annum each year (p.a) from 2018-2028, will reach about USD 24,59.6 million accounting for 6.2% of GDP by 2028 If including direct and indirect contributions, this figure is USD 20,605.6 million accounting for 9.4% of GDP in 2017, and is expected to rise by about 6.1% p.a in the period 2018-2028 and will reach 39,643.1 million by 2028, accounting for 9.8% of GDP Meanwhile, in India: The contribution of tourism and travel directly to the national GDP was 91.3 billion USD, equivalent to 3.7% of India’s GDP in 2017 and is expected to rise by 7.1% p.a and rise to 194.7 billion USD, accounting for 3.9% of GDP in 2028 If including both direct and indirect contributions, this figure was 234 billion USD, accounting for 9.4% of GDP in 2017, and is expected to rise by 6.9% p.a from 2018 to 2028 and will reach 492.2 billion USD by 2028, accounting for 9.9% of the national GDP Employment contribution: In Vietnam, in 2017, tourism and travel created 2,467,500 jobs directly, equivalent to 4.6% of total employment.This number is forecasted to rise by 1.5% per annum over the period 2018-2028, reaching 2,917,000 jobs, equivalent to 4.9% of total employment by 2028 Including direct and indirect jobs, there were 4,061,000, accounts for 7.6% of total employment, forecasted to rise by about 1.5% each year, to reach 4,790,000 jobs, accounting for 8% of total employment by 2028 In India: in 2017, tourism and travel contributed directly to 26,148,000 jobs, equivalent to 5.0% of total employment, this figure is expected to increase by 2.1% per year in the period 2018-2028, and to reach 33,195,000 jobs equal 5.3% of total employment by 2028 Including direct and indirect jobs, there were 41,622,500 jobs accounting for 8.0% of the total employment of the country This is expected to rise about 2% each year, reaching 52,279,000 jobs, accounting for 8.4% of the total employment by 2028 336 India-Vietnam Enhancing Partnership Visitor exports: In Vietnam, tourism and travel achieved 8,837.4 million USD, accounting for 4.0% of the total export value in 2017 This is expected to increase by 6.4% annually from 2018-2028 and will reach 17,517.4 million USD by 2028 (accounting for 4.7% of total export value) In India, this figure was 27.3 billion USD, accounting for 5.8% of total export value in 2017, it is expected to increase by 5.5% per annum from 2018-2028 and reach 50.9 billion USD by 2028 (accounting for 5.1% of total export value) Tourism investment: In Vietnam, in 2017, the Tourism and Travel sector attracted an investment of US $ 5,138.9 million, accounting for 8.5% of the nation’s total investment This is expected to increase by 5% per annum over the next ten years This is expected to achive US $8,965.3 million, accounting for 7.7% of the total national investment by 2028 In India, in 2017, the figure of investment in Tourism and Travel industry was US $ 41.6 billion, equivalent to 6.3% of the nation’s total investment, It is forecasted to increase by 6.7% per annum over the next ten years and is estimated at US $85.2 billion, accounting for 6.1% of total national investment by 2028 s % 2014-2028 % s % s % s s % s s % o 2014 182 066 46 367 238 93 963 500 37 088 500 77 165 080 48 96 452 10 2015 279 287 66 584 884 13 783 000 52 035 500 11 213 389 56 113 497 10 2016 207 798 46 410 008 91 959 500 36 003 000 73 184 811 45 121 565 99 2017 294 660 59 468 291 94 467 500 46 061 000 76 200 843 40 116 788 85 2028 o 564 968 62 900 944 98 917 000 49 790 000 80 398 107 47 203 748 77 o 2014 478 22 642 67 23 024 000 55 36 695 500 87 224 41 107 62 2015 668 309 63 23 454 500 60 37 315 000 87 249 42 264 60 2016 809 33 14 018 96 25 394 500 58 40 343 000 93 529 54 284 57 2017 943 37 15 239 94 26 148 000 50 41 622 500 80 777 58 706 63 2028 o 12 677 38 32 053 99 33 195 000 53 52 279 000 84 316 51 546 61 o ce: - / o o -2018/ o o 2018 - 2018 // o /-/ / / o / o o - Vietnam-India Tourism Cooperation: An Assessment of Status and Potential 337 338 India-Vietnam Enhancing Partnership Current situation of tourism activities between the two countries With the very significant figures of the tourism industry above, Vietnam and India have obviously made progress and developments In particular, the Vietnam and India tourism cooperation has also achieved good results in the period from 2010 to 2016, the number of Indian tourists traveling to Vietnam increased by 3.5 times (equivalent to 344%) from 16,000 arrivals in 2010 to more than 60,000 arrivals in 2015 and 82,000 arrivals in 2016 The trip length of Indian tourists in Vietnam is about days and expenditure is estimated about 914 USD/trip Which are higher than many other Asian travelers? Vietnam’s tourism sector is aiming to welcome about 100,000 Indian tourists in the near future (Vietnam National Administration of Tourism of 2017, VISTA 2018, Vnexpress 2018) In the same period, the number of Vietnamese tourists to India increased 2.22 times, from 7,548 arrivals in 2010 to 16,728 arrivals in 2016 The average growth rate is about 10.5% from 2014 to 2016 (Ministry of Tourism - India, 2017) A comparison of the purpose of travel, the data showed differences In the total of 16,728 Vietnamese visitors to India in 2016, there were 19.36% of travelers for the professional and business activities, 71.41% were for leisure holiday and recreation, 0.02% were for treatment, 4.27% were for the Indian diaspora Other reasons account for 4.94% (Ministry of Tourism - India, 2017) Meanwhile, the number of Indian tourists coming to Vietnam for entertainment purposes accounts for a modest proportion The General Statistics Ofice of Vietnam stated that the number of Indian tourists coming to Vietnam for work purposes is estimated at 57%, following by leisure and entertainment with 33% and other purposes accounting for less than 10% (GSO, 2018) In conclusion, the Indians to Vietnam are mostly for work, while the Vietnamese travellers to India with the main purpose are leisure holiday and recreation Indian tourists traveling to Vietnam tend to increase each year and vice versa The foundations of long-standing cultural and Buddhist interactions between the two countries, and bilateral cooperation between the two sides growing strongly in all areas reinforce this growing trend In Vietnam Tourism Development Strategy to 2020 and vision to 2030, issued in 2011, Vietnam has identified India as one of Vietnam’s key tourist markets (Decision 2473/QD -TTg of the Prime Minister of Vietnam on December 30, 2011) Vietnam and India signed the Government- Vietnam-India Tourism Cooperation: An Assessment of Status and Potential 339 level Tourism Cooperation Agreement on January 8, 2001 The implementation of the Agreement has been carried out in the last years from 2013 with the close cooperation and interest of the Vietnamese Embassy to India and the Indian Embassy to Vietnam The agenda of tourism cooperation has been prioritized for discussion during the Indian President’s visit to Vietnam in September 2014 and the Vietnam Prime Minister’s visit to India in October 2014 The two governments have promoted policies to fully exploit the tourism potential of Vietnam - India In 2017, in Bhubaneswar, the Vietnamese Embassy to India and the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism joined the Vietnam Visa Service Department, deployed by VFS Global Group Thus, Indian citizens can easily apply for a visa to Vietnam quickly in their local area, without directly visiting Vietnamese representative ofices in New Delhi or Mumbai However, it is easy to see that the achieved results are not fully commensurate with the tourism potential between the two countries.The number of Indians traveling abroad is only ranked behind China, and has risen very fast from 4.42 million arrivals in 2000 to 21.87 million arrivals in 2016, a figure that is not small compared to only 82,000 Indian arrivals come to Vietnam The latest figures indicates that the number of Indian tourists coming to Vietnam accounting for only about 1.7% of the total Indian visitors to ASEAN countries Meanwhile, Vietnamese tourists to India accounting for only 2.24% of total tourists from Southeast Asia and accounting for 0.19% of the total international visitors to India (Ministry of Tourism - India, 2017) Table 2: Data of International and Indian visitors to other countries and Vietnam Year India visitors to international (Arrivals) International visitors to Vietnam (Arrivals) Indian visitors to Vietnam (Arrivals) Vietnamese visitors to India (Arrivals) 2005 7,184,510 3,467,757 11,218 NA 2006 8,339,614 3,583,486 11,973 NA 2007 9,780,000 4,171,564 12,789 NA 2008 10,870,000 4,253,740 13,524 4,877 2009 11,070,000 3,772,359 14,703 5,577 2010 12,990,000 5,049,855 16,120 7,548 2011 13,990,000 6,014,032 17,695 9,809 India-Vietnam Enhancing Partnership 340 2012 14 920 000 847 678 20 124 11 332 2013 16 630 000 572 352 32 145 12 312 2014 18 330 000 874 312 57 215 15 132 2015 20 380 000 943 651 60 017 15 341 2016 21 870 000 10 012 735 82 146 16 728 Source: Vietnam National Administration of Tourism [http://vietnamtourism.gov.vn/index php/items/25583], and Ministry of Tourism (India), 2010, 2014, 2015, 2017 Assessment of Tourism Potential Between the Two Countries Evaluation model In this content, to assess tourism potential between the two countries, we use the model “the Functioning Tourism Sytem” (FTS), first proposed by Clare A Gunn (1988) approaching under the perspective of supply and demand of tourism, then Shelby R Herrin (2015) has adjusted FTS refers to two main parts that form a tourism system consist of the supply and demand side Tourism potential between the two countries will be determined by the demand and supply of tourism between the two countries Demand side is examinated by the measurement of amount of population who are interested in traveling, have financial ability, time, health and ability to travel Supply is determined through the following four components: Transportation including transport infrastructure (roads, waterways, airways) and vehicles for tourists; Attractions/Destinations are tourist spots; Services include a service system that serves the needs of tourists, resting, shopping, entertainment and other needs; Information includes all sources of information and Promotion are ways to promote to the community about destinations Information and Promotion has been combined into one by Shelby R Herrin (2015) Vietnam-India Tourism Cooperation: An Assessment of Status and Potential 341 Figure 1: The Functioning Tourism System Source: C.A.Gunn (1988); Herrin, Shelby R.,“Application of Heritage Tourism Development Frameworks to Jenkins County, Georgia” (2015) University Honors Program Theses 137 https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/honors-theses/137 Potentials of tourism between Vietnam and India i Demand: Both Vietnam and India are developing dynamically with economic growth rate in recent years at about 7% for India and over 6% for Vietnam which is among the highest in Asia.The middle class is growing rapidly, leading to a strong increase in travel demand In Vietnam, domestic tourists in 2017 increased by 18.1% compared to 2016 The number of Vietnamese people travelling abroad also increased rapidly (Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, 2017) According to the data of the Vietnam Tourism Association, in 2016, there were about 6.5 million Vietnamese people traveled 342 India-Vietnam Enhancing Partnership abroad, spending $8 billion, double than the $3.5 billion figure in 2012 and in 2017, the number of foreign tourists was more than million (Baomoi, 2018; Vnexpress, 2018) According to the Ministry of Tourism (Indian) (2017), the Indians going abroad increased from 1.9 million in 1991 to 4.41 million in 2000 and 21.87 million in 2016 Asia was an attractive tourist market for Indian tourists, accounting for 47% of the total Indian travelers abroad in 2015 (Ministry of Tourism (India), 2017) Among the top destinations of Indian travelers, there are places in Asia, namely Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Thailand These are all places that have welcomed over one million Indian visitors in 2015 In Southeast Asia, Singapore was the place that attracted more than one million Indian visitors in 2015 ii Supply Attractions/ Destinations:Both Vietnam and India are countries with a rich history, along with social and natural diversity Vietnam has 24 heritage sites recognized by UNESCO as world cultural heritages, in which there are natural and tangible heritages (UNESCO and WHC) In addition, Vietnam has 3000 national heritages and 7500 provincial heritages (according to Vietnam’s classification) and a myriad of customs, practices and landscapes that Vietnam will bring for visitors.These are important advantages to attract tourists to Vietnam With the richness and diversity of cultural heritage types, Vietnam is included in the list of countries that receive the most attention in Asia and has great potential to exploit and develop heritage tourism On a national scale, Vietnam is at the centre of Asia in terms of geography, has a stable political system, dynamic economy, open foreign policy and is gradually improving its national image Vietnam is a destination for business cooperation and event organization By the end of 2017, India had 37 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 43 other locations included in the tentative list of world heritage sites (Reference from the Open Dictionary) In India, New Delhi alone has more than 1200 historical monuments, including three world heritage sites ecognized by UNESCO The cultural assets of India show the brilliant development of stone art Most of the listed temples and religious buildings in India are built with stone carved figures and not use cement mortar The Indian Government is making efforts to make New Delhi be recognized as one of the 200 UNESCO World Heritage Cities in its efforts to preserve the 1000 year old city (Khanh Phuong, 2013) Vietnam-India Tourism Cooperation: An Assessment of Status and Potential 343 In India, besides the magnificent and beautiful buildings of the architectural style that combine both Hinduism and Islam such as Agra Fort, Sikandra, Rambagh, India also has very rich and variety life styles, cultural heritage and festivals that make India a distinct tourist destination India is not only diverse in terms topography, natural resources and climate, but also a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious community with colorful customs India is the land of fairs and festivals There is the fair on everyday of the year Fairs and festivals have added colors and identity to the social life of the Indian people Therefore, India is an attractive tourist destination in all seasons Across the country there are wildlife conservation areas of thousands of square kilometers Here, the animals are living in the natural environment Each area stores a number of animals, including one species that is characteristic India’s diverse terrain also offers many opportunities for adventure tourism sector All interests are met: from the lightest trips to the more activity-oriented and exciting trips; there is always something for each level of competence: from the beginners to the practitioners With rich natural, cultural, religious and historical resources of Vietnam and India, the tourism potential of the two countries is huge which serves as the basis for tourist cooperation development in the future Services: This element refers to the quality and quantity of the service system that it determines greatly to the satisfaction of tourists This factor is related to the professional supply capabilities, the willingness to provide services with different requirements with regard to food, medical care, accommodation, internet systems, transportation, guide system etc Vietnam currently has about 1,752 international travel enterprises, including stated-owned enterprises, 16 joint-ventures companies (Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, 2018), along with Vietnam major brands in tourism industry such as SaigonTourist, Benthanh Tourist, Hanoi Red Tour, Holidays Vietnam, Vietravel, Fiditour, Vietcharm Travel, Hanoitourist…To provide services to customers, most of the tourist companies proactively combine with local service suppliers where Attractions/Destinations are available Prices of services are generally low compared to other countries in the region The types of services are also diverse, such as food and accommodation, and are appreciated by international visitors 344 India-Vietnam Enhancing Partnership However, generally speaking, tourism services in Vietnam are still restrictive For example, the different prices between domestic and international visitors in the localities; the phenomenon of dragging and behaving poorly by local people; The human resources in this sector not mastered foreign languages yet, have limited professional knowledge and skills… In addition, the inter-regional connectivity in this field or tourism chains in Vietnam are still limited In India, the system of tourism services is rich, diverse and is distributed throughout tourist destinations across the country There are 823 operators in India recognized by Ministry of Tourism, as on 31st December, 2016: 172 travel agents, 420 inbound Tour Operators, 89 Tourist Transport Operators, 37 Adventure Tour Operators, 105 Domestic Tour Operators In addition, there are 1903 hotels with 104289 rooms including 13 one star hotels, 53 two star hotels, 419 three star hotels, 208 four star hotels, 128 five star hotels, 138 five star deluxe, 36 heritage hotels… (Ministry of Tourism - India, 2017) For many years, India has built a system of world-class accommodation infrastructure to satisfy the needs of visitors India has about 60.000 classified hotel rooms and more than 35.000 others are under construction The hotel room system is scattered in different cities and has very diverse prices The Indian Government is planning to cut taxes and create more incentives for tourism services such as reducing corporate income tax, tax incentives for hotel construction, allocating more budgets for shopping of new cruise ships and renovating roads leading to scenic spots (Ministry of Tourism, 2017) With such tourism service systems of Vietnam and India, in general, the two countries have many advantages and facilities which are ready to meet the tourist demand of the two sides Transportation: Vietnam has a convenient transport system with plentiful means of transportation that basically meets the needs of tourists in regions of tourist destinations, specifically: (i) Aviation: there are currently 24 airports, including large international airports such as Noi Bai, Tan Son Nhat and Da Nang With a system of continuously serving airlines, it is favorable for tourists to visit Vietnam to experience travelling (ii) Roads: Vietnam has about 17,300 km of national level roads and 27,700 km of provincial level roads In addition, the Transportation Sector aims to invest in to build 2,500 km of highways by the end of 2020; by 2030, Vietnam expected to have 6,411 km highways, focusing mainly on the North-South highway and in the Vietnam-India Tourism Cooperation: An Assessment of Status and Potential 345 capital area of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and routes connecting with international seaports and border gates This will be an excellent infrastructure development strategy as a platform to connect tourists with domestic tourist destinations (iii) Railways: According to “The Adjustment of Vietnam Transportation Development Strategy to 2020 and Vision to 2030”, Vietnam railway network has a total length of 3,143 km in which 2,531 km is the main road, 612 km branch road and railway station road (iv) Inland waterways, ports and wharves: Currently, there are about 2,360 rivers and canals in the whole country, with a total length of 41,900 km with 108 inland ports and wharves These ports are scattered on the main rivers and canals (v) Seaway: With more than 3,200 km of coastline, Vietnam has a system of 37 seaports, 166 ports, and 350 wharves Vietnam is in the process of building an international gateway port in key economic zones and port terminals in other areas ( JICA and MOT, 2010) The increasingly renovated infrastructure and rich transport facilities have basically met the needs of tourists to various regions However, despite the increasing rapid, the speed has not met the demand yet, and the quality of transport infrastructure is low Airports in Vietnam are currently overloaded and flight delays are regular According to the data of the Vietnam Aviation Department, in 2018, 39,632 flights were delayed, accounting for 13.4% of total flights (CafeF 2019); trafic congestion is also serious in big cities Besides, trafic accidents is also high The railway system is outdated and poor in quality Most of the railway system in Vietnam only has one railway for both the coming and going directions, so the trains have to arrange arrival times so as to avoid each other, so the time frame is not favorable and timeconsuming for travelers Similarly, India has a rich transportation system and public transport is the main mode of transportation for most Indians India’s public transport system is one of the most used vehicles in the world (i) India Aviation currently ranks 9th in the world India has 128 airports including 15 international airports Since 20092010, Indian aviation sector have shipped 1.6 million tons of cargo, and in years, 2010-2011, there were 142 million passengers (ii) As of 2017, India has 4,689,842 km of roads, making India the largest road network in the world after the United States With a size of 0.66 km of highway on one square kilometer of land, India’s highway network density is higher than the United States (0.65) and much higher than China (0.16) and Brazil (0.2) However, most of India’s roads are narrow and 346 India-Vietnam Enhancing Partnership congested with poor surface quality, and 33% of villages in India not have access to roads in all weathers (iii) India’s Railway network is the third and most widely used railway system in the world (iv) As of 2016, India had 106 national waterways The national waterway network is about 14,500 km of which about 5,200 km is river way, 485 km is canal (v) Seaway: India has about 12 main ports, 187 small and medium ports, of which Mumbai and JNPT (Navi Mumbai) received 70% of Indian maritime trade ( WB) The Indian metro system is also highly developed Delhi Metro is one of the largest metro networks in the world Currently, many new metro lines are being constructed and the old lines being expanded One of the main drivers of India’s tourism boom is the introduction of five low-cost airlines in 2017 with more than 100 flying routes, which are preferentially granted by the Government to open routes to remote areas which encourage thousands of families to take flights as a mode of transportation With the current transportation system, both Vietnam and India can fully meet the transportation needs of visitors to tourist destinations However, until now, there is no direct flight between the two countries and therefore, tourists of both countries must transit in another countries, causing lots of inconveniences in travelling Promotion/Information: It is believed that tourist information between Vietnam and India is still very limited Vietnamese people know very little and even misunderstand about India For tourists, information about the country and the tourist location is very important and it must be met quickly with a clear, specific, easy-to-understand, updated and reliable information system… To develop tourism between India and Vietnam, it is necessary to have information channels which timely meet the needs of the visitors In recent years, many programs have been held to promote tourism and tourist cooperation between the two countries such as: Vietnam – India Friendship Year 2012, Vietnam – India Tourism Cooperation Conference on 7th March 2017, Market Launch Program in India from 11-16 December 2017, or India Tourism Promotion Program on the theme “Incredible India Road Show 2018” on 8th May 2018 in Ho Chi Minh City At the same time, the information channels of travel companies have provided information about Indian and Vietnamese tours Every year, India regularly organizes large international tourism fairs in cities, attracting the participation of a large number of businesses, travel companies from many countries around the world Vietnam-India Tourism Cooperation: An Assessment of Status and Potential 347 In particular, two very large international tourism fairs such as SATTE (South Asia’s Leading B2B Travel and Tourism Event), OTM (Outbound Travel Mart) are held annually in Mumbai, New Delhi and some other states in India Most travel representatives in Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia such as Singapore, Maylaysia, Philippines, China, Japan… all attended while there is no representative of Vietnam In recent years, Vietnam’s businesses and travel companies have gradually approached it but the number is very tiny and mainly confined to small businesses The promotion activities are fragmented, unimpressive and unattractive for partners and visitors/tourists alike Up to now, cooperation, exchange and promotion activities between the two countries are too little and on a small scale in comparison to the time, space and potentials for bilateral tourism cooperation It can be said that, the image promotion activities of Vietnam’s tourism industry to the Indian market is still fuzzy and unattractive Most of the activities are in the plan and no large scale promotion activity has been organized Identification of the Advantages and Disadvantages/Dificulties of Tourism Cooperation Between the Two Countries Advantages: The demand of traveling in the world is very large and increasing day by day India and Vietnam are two developing economies with high economic growth.The lives of the people are fastly improved, the demand for tourism is great Vietnam and India are the two countries with great potentials of cultural heritage, including systems of temples and pagodas, palaces, spiritual buildings and other cultural heritages The cultural and religious connection, especially Buddhism, is the favorable condition for tourism cooperation between the two countries and therefore, spiritual tourism will be one of the popular styles of Vietnamese tourists to India This kind of spriritual tourism tends to increase and is actually increasing.The need to travel to discover each other’s cultural heritage, especially associated with religious beliefs is creasing every year Therefore, there are big opportunities for tourist companies and investors of the two countries to cooperate and develop tourism in general, spiritual and cultural heritage tourism in particular In addition, the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries is developing strongly and thus the demand for exchanges and transactions will increase much more Business investors of the two countries will have to penetrate directly into each others’s markets in search of business opportunities 348 India-Vietnam Enhancing Partnership With the current potential for tourism development, Vietnam and India have many the opportunities in attracting investment capital from tourist companies and from investors of both sides In Vietnam, big investors in the country are investing heavily in Vietnam’s tourism with the expectation to turn Vietnam into a tourism powerhouse The opportunity for this smokeless industry in Vietnam and India is immensely huge on the basis of the rich experience and practice from countries that have developed tourism industries like Spain, the US, England and Sweden… Besides, both Vietnam and India have many more open policies such as visa application facilities, by electronic visa (e-visa) On the Vietnamese side, the facilities to organize events of communication and promotion of Indian culture and tourism have been streamlined and well received In the context of rapidly developing technology, the opportunities to expand the tourism market are huge Vietnamese tourists can easily and fully access the information on tourism programs in India and vice versa The cooperation opportunities in Vietnam – India tourism development are also underpinned by the concerns of senior leaders of the two countries and the strategies of bilateral political-diplomatic, economic, scientific, technological, educational and training cooperation between the two countries Development strategies and the objectives to boost trade between the two countries with a focus on tourism have made the tourism industry a key business for bilateral cooperation Disadvantages: In fact, most Vietnamese people are still ambiguous about Indian culture, society and politics The limited knowledge and information about India as well as the questions and doubts about safety in India that have prevented Vietnamese tourists, they are really not attractived enough and wishing to experience in India This is obviously the fault of communication of both countries which did not help the citizens of two sides to understand each other’s reality Security and political stability in a country are now the top priority factors for travelers In fact that both Vietnam and India are very safe countries for tourists So the mission for communication of states, enterprises, organizations of both sides, is to bring the knowledge of the fact to the communities of both countries Despite the advantages and conveniences of transport infrastructure as analyzed above, India still faces challenges in this area as the congestion and poor quality of roads Rural areas have very limited access to the centre Although the rural transport network is very large, about 33% of Indian villages have no access roads and are Vietnam-India Tourism Cooperation: An Assessment of Status and Potential 349 cut off during the rainy season The situation in Vietnam is similar The problem of trafic congestion is getting more and more complicated, especially in big cities, not only roads in general but also highways in large urban areas Trafic congestion and deterioration of road quality is very common This will lead to series of environmental pollution problems (due to the emissions from vehicles) that will affect the quality of tourism services In addition, the fact that there is no direct flight between the two countries will make tourists hesitate to travel by transiting in other countries Restrictions of tourist transportation infrastructure between the two countries will limit the exploitation of the tourism potentials Challenges from regional competition are also a relatively large issue It is worth mentioning that most Vietnamese tourists travelling to China, Korea, Singapore, Thailand while very insignificant number of people going to India The open-door policies of the above mentioned countries have created lots of advantages for Vietnamese tourists: simplification of visa procedures, or visa exemptions such as Thailand, Singapore, Laos… and at the same time, the communication strategies for socio-cultural promotion for a long time has created the “Korean Syndrome”, “Chinese Culture”, “Experience Singapore”… that attracted Vietnamese people and increased their desire to travel to these countries And vice versa, Vietnam does not have a visa-free policy for Indian tourists traveling to Vietnam, which is a major challenge to Vietnam’s competitiveness compared to other ASEAN members in particular and Asian countries in general The lack of harmony in food has hampered tourism activities between the two countries Many Vietnamese people find it dificult to adapt to Indian food and vice versa Therefore, the conveniences of travelling between the two countries are restrictive There are many other challenges in tourism cooperation between the two countries such as the quality of human resources in tourism (very few tourist guides have the ability to speak Hindi – Vietnamese), the quality and quantity of food and accommodation services are limited (Vietnam does not have many Indian restaurants in the locality, while India’s hotel system is concentrated in the middle and upper segments, with very few stops for visitors to experience homestay themselves), there is no master plan and tourism cooperation plans between the two countries 350 India-Vietnam Enhancing Partnership Conclusions and Recommendations Through the above analysis, we can give answers to the three questions that were initially asked First, currently, the tourism cooperation activities between Vietnam and India are very limited The number of tourists between the two countries is much smaller than that of countries in Southeast Asia counterparts such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.The number of Indian tourists coming to Vietnam is much higher than that of Vietnamese to India However, there is a brigh spot that the growth rate of Vietnam – India tourism continues to be maintained at a high level Secondly, the potential for tourism cooperation between the two countries is huge Both the countries have the foundation for tourism development, i.e., the richness and attractiveness of tourist destinations The information and promotion activities for tourism between the two countries are still limited In addition, the quality of travel services and a part of trafic is not really good Thirdly, there are still many dificulties in tourism development between the two countries However, the advantages are more than dificulties This shows that the prospects for tourism development between the two countries are relatively bright In order to further develop tourism activities between the two countries, dificulties should be minimized First of all, the Governments of both sides need to operate policies giving priority to the two countries, such as visa exemption, creating direct flights, making and implementing measures to ensure absolute security and safety for tourists in general and tourists of the two countries in particular The two countries need to strengthen cooperation and exchange programs on tourism with annual tourism promotion programs organized by the two Governments with the participation of all economic sectors in term of tourism in general It is important to raise the awareness of the two countries’ communities of history, culture, natural sceneries, economy, politics and society… in the form of cultural exchanges such as movies, documents or expanding festival celebration activities such as Diwali Light Festival, Holi Festival, Ganesha Festival… so that the Vietnamese people can easily access and understand more about India; or vice versa, Vietnamese traditional days such as the Lunar New Year (Tết Nguyên Đán), Mid-Autumn Festival (Tết Trung Thu), Yen Tu Festival etc for Indian tourists to better understand Vietnamese culture and people Vietnam-India Tourism Cooperation: An Assessment of Status and Potential 351 For tourist companies of the two countries, there should be a closer cooperation sharing and exchanging experiences of tourist business activities between the two countries with the aim to expand and improve the quality and quantity of tourism services thereby boosting the two countries’ visitor export growth; the cooperation and sharing can be formed under the activities of the Vietnam – India tourist cooperation centres, Vietnam – India tourist organizations, Vietnam – India enterprises… At the same time, it is necessary to enhance the promotion and information activities through conferences, seminars, festivals, anniversaries… Or, the application of science and technology (eg 4D Virtual Reality Technology), the promotion of market research between the two countries, building a set of specific and suitable tourist products for each other’s tourists, especially the products associated with the cultural history between the two countries to promote bilateral tourist connection through regional links such as the Pilgrimage Program from Mahabodhi Temple to Truc Lam Yen Tu Monastery or vice versa In summary, with the advantages and disadvantages in tourism cooperation between the two countries as analyzed above, it is necessary to have deeper research and broader practical activities in order to boost economic growth in general, tourism industry of the two countries in particular And hopefully, there will be more tourism cooperation between the two sides in the near future References • 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highway and in the Vietnam-India Tourism Cooperation: An Assessment of Status and Potential 345 capital area of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and routes connecting with international seaports and border... understand Vietnamese culture and people Vietnam-India Tourism Cooperation: An Assessment of Status and Potential 351 For tourist companies of the two countries, there should be a closer cooperation. .. the rural transport network is very large, about 33% of Indian villages have no access roads and are Vietnam-India Tourism Cooperation: An Assessment of Status and Potential 349 cut off during
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