Travel and Tourism - Vietnam - February 2013
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The negative images of the Vietnam War have been consigned to history and Vietnam has become one of Asia’s hottest destinations. The year 2012 was a good one for the country’s tourism industry –according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), international arrivals reached 6.84 million, up from 4.22 million in 2007.
Domestic tourism has also been on the rise. Vietnam has a growing middle class with the means (and inclination) to travel. In 2012, VNAT data showed that 32.5 million Vietnamese took a trip within their own country – 8% more than in 2011. Although an increasing number of Vietnamese are holidaying at home, they are not necessarily spending more money. Heavy discounting by tour operators, travel agents and hotels have kept prices artificially low. Preliminary figures from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) show that in 2012, domestic travellers (leisure and business) spent US$4.94 billion (compared to US$4.74 billion in 2007).
Nonetheless, in a mere couple of decades, Vietnam has been able to put itself on the travel industry map and while the tourism sector still has a number of weaknesses – poor ground transportation (road and rail), lack of tourism infrastructure, not enough four- and five-star hotels to meet demand – it has come a long way since the Communist government instigated economic reforms back in the 1980s.
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