The waste of Vietnam's tourism resources is like a disease that has persisted for a long time. But if we really want to, curing the disease would be simple.
Vietnam could have the best tourism attractions in all of Southeast Asia, if we put our minds to it.
But our tourism industry struggles with a modest amount of foreign visitors each year. We lack coordination between people in management and planning, and this is what we need to develop the industry in the best possible way.
Our tourism is like a penguin. It can swim and waddle but it can't fly.
Our penguin cannot turn into an eagle in a couple of days. We need a revolution to change not only our long-term big-picture planning, but also our everyday acts.
Three years ago, I was on a tour of Europe with province leaders. One leader from a south-central province known for its tourism said, "We just do tourism for fun. Its income cannot be compared with seafood exports."
With such thinking, it's lucky tourism even exists in our country at all.
Our travel industry is now weak in many ways, so we need to decide which the most important points in need of fixing first are. We should roll up our sleeves right now to clean our public toilets, then clear trash piles on the streets and around our attractions. Authorities at Ba Den
Mountain in Tay Ninh Province, the historic town of Hoi An, and the central city of Da Nang have managed to get rid of vendors, beggars and pick-pockets. Why haven't other places?
Tourism authorities should bravely abolish redundant or poorly-organized festivals that have little spiritual meaning.
Don't raise hotel prices suddenly and unreasonably, and inform visitors when there're out of rooms so that they aren't left out in the cold when they arrive.
Before you invite guests into your home, you tidy up the place. It not only shows respect but leaves a good impression about you on your visitors.
The training of tourism staff, especially tour guides in international tours, needs to be seriously reformed. We need to treat these people as though they were the country's official ambassadors to the world.
Each province should develop a special tourism product of its own. So far, too many provinces repeat regional tourist products.
Finally, the government should create a fair and transparent environment for the tourism industry.
Our tourism machine currently operates thusly: everyone's the boss, but no one takes any responsibility.
Nguyen Van My
director of Ho Chi Minh City-based tour operator Lua Viet