The more I read about how Vietnam wants more tourists visiting the country, the more I wonder why the private and government entities don't do more. For instance, hotels don't have showrooms, private tour companies don't encourage local businesses to have cultural shows and the government does not provide a safe and sanitary environment.
I have read about surveys that indicate more than 85 percent of tourists would not return to Vietnam because there is nothing for them to purchase or see. As I walk about Le Loi Street in Q1, TPHCM, I notice that there are fewer tourists, yet the newspapers report over five million tourists visit Vietnam. Where are they? Are they tired of being run over by motorbikes and other vehicles that don't obey common sense traffic laws? Are they tired of walking in the streets because businesses occupy the sidewalks? By the way, what is the definition of "sidewalk"? Are they tired of being scammed by merchants and people on the streets? Poor sanitary conditions at food establishments and in the overall environment are also a deterrent. Vietnamese people have to stop putting their fingers up their noses, defecating and urinating on the streets.
Another deterrent is the inability of the staff of hotels and tourist shops to speak English. I was in a so called "Five Star Hotel" that caters to foreigners. I stopped to ask the information desk person about purchasing a newspaper. She told me something in Vietnamese, and I told her in Vietnamese, that I didn't understand Vietnamese. She continued to speak in Vietnamese, finally pointing to the concierge near the front door. This, I find, is a common problem in Vietnam. If you tell them you can't speak Vietnamese, in Vietnamese, they repeat what you said, laugh and continue to speak to you in Vietnamese. Or, if you mispronounce a word in Vietnamese, they turn away and won't try to help you. Just last week, as I was driving to Bien Hoa on my motorbike, I had to stop and ask directions since there aren't adequate road signs and I kept saying "Ben Hoa". People would just shrug their shoulders and turn their backs on me. Finally, I found a roadside vendor that corrected me to say "Bien Hoa" and pointed me in the right direction. Attitudes of the local people greatly influence visitors.
How I miss the áo dài show that was on Ly Tu Trong Street in HCMC! The only cultural show I would take visitors to in Vietnam.
Chao from a person who has traveled the world, seen other countries' cultural shows and who has chosen Vietnam as a home.