Vietnam announces tourism stimulus program

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The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has unveiled a stimulus program that seeks to increase the number of international arrivals to 7.2 million from 6.8 million last year.

Under the program, expected to begin in the second or third quarter, travel companies, hotels, restaurants, tourist areas, and shops will offer 10-40 percent discounts during off-peak seasons, Thoi bao kinh te Saigon Online has reported.

Airlines will also offer discounts.

Programs promoting Vietnam as a tourism destination will be launched in key markets like China, France, India, and Russia.

When announcing its plan for the program last year end, the ministry said it would ask the government to cut value-added tax by half and waive income tax for businesses joining the program.

But these have not been mentioned in the program now. Instead, participating businesses will be allowed to promote their services on the program's website and some newspapers.

Several businesses have expressed concern over the program's effectiveness, saying there will be not enough time to sell it to partners and customers.

"I thought that since the program was discussed last year, details should have been available now, but all we have is a general program that encourages businesses to join it," the director of a Ho Chi Minh City travel company, who wished to remain unnamed, said.

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