Vietnam, US to boost tourism via new cooperation deal

By Anh Minh   April 7, 2017 | 04:49 pm GMT+7

US travel agencies will explore Hanoi and go on a trans-Vietnam trip to gather more information for their tour products.

Vietnam and the U.S. inked Friday a deal aiming to boost tourism ties between the two countries and help tour firms expand their markets, industry officials said. 

Hanoi aims to boost tourism this year as part of expanding the service sector, now the biggest contributor to the country's gross domestic product, after the economy has recorded its slowest growth since 2014 in the first quarter due mainly to a trade deficit and weak industrial sector growth.

The agreement was signed between the Vietnam Travel Association (VTA) and the U.S. Travel Association in Hanoi within the framework of the Vietnam International Travel Mart (VITM) 2017, one of the region's largest travel shows.

VTA's chairman Vu The Binh said the U.S. is a "dream market" for many countries. Total expenditures for international tourism last year rose 9 percent from 2015 to $145 billion, according to U.S. Travel Association data.

The agreement is expected to boost tourist arrivals, Binh said.

Deputy chair of U.S. Travel Association Rubert Duglin said the deal would help tourism businesses in both countries expand their markets.

Duglin told VnExpress he would introduce and promote Vietnam's attractive destinations, such as Hanoi, Hue, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City, to American travelers. 

After the agreement, U.S. travel agencies are expected to attend an excursion in Hanoi and also spend time for a trans-Vietnam trip to gather information on services and destinations for their marketing plan.

The VITM 2017 is attended by more than 650 enterprises and tourism agencies from 43 cities and provinces of Vietnam, in addition to 25 countries and territories, including Japan, South Korea and those from Western Europe and Southeast Asia.

Thousands of low-cost air tickets and 15,000 package tours at discounted prices were offered by travel companies and airlines at the fair.

In February, Vietnam made it easier for American tourists to acquire visas via an electronic visa system. Last year it attracted 552,000 U.S. travelers, 12.5 percent higher than 2015, accounting for more than 5 percent of the country’s total international arrivals, government statistics show.

In 2017, Vietnam aims to attract 11.5 million foreign tourists, up 15 percent from last year's record high of 10 million, and revenue is also projected to jump 15 percent to VND460 trillion ($20.2 billion).