Vietnam Named Fourth Most-Improved Country to Visit

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With a forecasted 1.8 billion (!) international travellers to traverse the globe by 2030, tourism accounts for not less than one tenth of the global GDP and jobs on this planet. It has been a motor of Vietnam’s economy for quite a while now, too, with hotels, resorts and even amusement parks popping up at a dizzying pace at the country’s major travel destinations. But how well does Vietnam really perform in the field?

Vietnam tourists

This month, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has published the 2017 edition of its biennial Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report with good news for Vietnam: climbing from number 75 to 67, it’s the fourth most-improved country to visit worldwide! But what does this really mean?

Can’t Beat Europe… Yet

The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index measures “the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country”.

With this scope, it is obviously the Western hemisphere, where tourism has been developed and promoted for decades, that dominates the ranking. The top three best countries for travelling in the world? Spain, France and Germany. However, Japan comes in at a close fourth.

One couldn’t really expect Vietnam to be in the top ranks when it comes to sustainability (one of the defining factors for the WEF) but it’s seemingly on the right track – in some respects.

Where Vietnam Does Well

As part of the strong Asian-Pacific region that has flourished in recent years and accounts for 5 out of the 15 most-improved countries in the index (Japan, Korea, India, Vietnam and Bhutan), Vietnam’s main assets are its natural and cultural resources, price competitiveness as well as its human resources and labour market, an area where there has been considerable improvement in recent years. The country ranks among the top 40 out of 136 countries in total in all of these categories.

Vietnam tourism evolutionIn particular, Vietnam has significantly improved its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) capabilities. With more online presence, the country’s magnificent natural wonders can be more easily researched and visited. Vietnam also attracts more business travellers thanks to its ongoing economic boom and it is, especially with current international situation in many other countries, rightfully perceived as a safe place to travel.

Where Vietnam Does Not Do So Well

However, the WEF does mention some aspects where improvement is more than needed. “Vietnam should focus on environmental sustainability. Lax regulations, high levels of emissions, deforestation and limited water treatment are depleting the environment and should be addressed, perhaps at a multilateral level, to build the foundation for a more sustainable development of the region.”

Vietnam tourism side effects

Currently, the index ranks Vietnam 129th regarding environmental sustainability. In other words: eighth to last.

The implications for the country are clear: almost eight million international tourist arrivals in 2016 (other sources speak of 10 million) and a Travel & Tourism (T&T) Industry GDP of US$12.74 billion are impressive numbers. But Vietnam has to take better care of its abundant, yet not infinite natural resources.

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