Vietnam Lags Regional Competitors in Tourist Service and Air Transport Infastructure

Nhat Trung

15:59 23/07/2019

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Vietnam’s visa regime, which has been liberalized somewhat in recent years, still lags compared to the relatively more open visa policies of key regional competitors.

Vietnam Lags Regional Competitors in Tourist Service and Air Transport Infastructure
Relative to the rest of developing Southeast Asia21, Vietnam’s strong inbound tourism growth has enabled it to capture a growing share of tourism demand to the region, and bring its visitor count closer to the region’s top performers, that is what World Bank says in the latest report.
Over both the past 5 and 10 years, Vietnam’s international visitor growth has consistently outpaced that of its competitors in developing Southeast Asia, with the exception of Myanmar, where the higher 10-year growth reflects in large part its low starting level of visitors. 
As a result, Vietnam has been gradually capturing greater market share, not only of total tourism arrivals to developing Southeast Asia, but also of those to the broader East Asian region, including the larger and more developed tourism markets such as Singapore, China, Japan, and South Korea. 
Vietnam has now caught up with Indonesia in terms of overall number of international arrivals and narrowed the gap with the top arrival countries in the region—Malaysia and Thailand. On a per capita basis (i.e. factoring in relative country size), Vietnam’s arrivals also appear to have significantly more room to grow compared to Malaysia and Thailand, where arrivals are already roughly 80 percent and 55 percent of their respective national populations.
Vietnam’s growing regional market share appears to reflect, in part, recent improvements to various dimensions of its tourism competitiveness. The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Tourism Competitiveness Index scores and ranks countries according to a variety of physical and institutional factors relevant to tourism. 
In terms of its overall score on this index in 2017, Vietnam was ranked 67th globally, stood on par with the average of the rest of its regional competitors, but was not the top regional performer (i.e. on the regional “frontier”) in any single dimension of competitiveness. 
However, since 2015 (the prior iteration of the index), Vietnam has achieved the largest overall improvement in competitiveness among its regional peers, with its largest strides coming in the areas of ICT readiness, international openness, safety and security, and ground and port infrastructure.
Despite these gains, important weaknesses in relative competitiveness remain. Vietnam still lags the rest of the region considerably with regards to its tourist service and air transport infrastructure, as well as its prioritization of the tourism sector. 
The latter primarily reflects a relatively low allocation of government spending to the tourism sector (1.4 percent of total government expenditure in 2017, 114th among global comparators), despite its declared strategic importance, as well as the limited coverage and comprehensiveness of Vietnam’s tourism sector statistics (116th globally). 
On a global basis, it is also important to note Vietnam’s weakness in the area of environmental sustainability (129th globally)— although it ranks on par with its regional comparators, the region as a whole performs very poorly in this dimension. 
Finally, in the area of international openness, Vietnam’s visa regime, which has been liberalized somewhat in recent years, still lags compared to the relatively more open visa policies of key regional competitors.

NHAT TRUNG

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