Vietnam officials try to clean up the country in tourism push

By Thanh Tuyet   September 15, 2016 | 12:35 am PT
Vietnam officials try to clean up the country in tourism push
Harassing street vendors is one of the problems faced by many foreign tourists in Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/T.Hang
Filthy toilets and traffic chaos: Why tourists don't return to Vietnam.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism is planing to fix the biggest problems encountered by foreign visitors in the country, like traffic and dirty toilets.

Government officials have named unsafe traffic, dirty food, thieves, beggars and poor services as the reasons that plague visitors to Vietnam.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said at a meeting on Wednesday that the new plan, which is set to make tourism a strategic part of the economy, must give priority to solving these problems.

Vu Quang Minh, a spokesman from the Foreign Ministry, said pollution is the main reason many tourists do not return to Vietnam.

“They are terrified by our poor hygiene. We are falling behind many neighboring countries in this respect,” Minh said.

Vietnam is loved for its beautiful lanscapes and diverse food culture, but major attractions are largely hindered by poor hygiene. Many destinations are notorious for their lack of clean public toilets and littering.

Huynh Van Ti, vice minister of social affairs, agreed that public hygiene is “the most painful matter”.

Ti said the problem can be fixed with better management, starting with hotels.

“If we do not have clean, green hotels, we cannot attract tourists.”

The plan will also help tourists by simplifying visa procedures and reducing visa fees, officials said.

Vietnam welcomed more than 6.4 million foreign tourists in the first eight months of this year, up 25.4 percent from the same period last year.

But still, many first-time tourists surveyed said that they would not return, which means there is a lot of work to do if Vietnam wants to reach its target of attracting 14-15 million foreign visitors a year by 2020.

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