A technological breakthrough to modernize Vietnamese tourism

The application of technology and data collection were mentioned at the recent Vietnam Tourism and Travel Summit. as game changers for the country’s tourism and its lost potential.

“With millions of incoming visitors and a colossal shortage of skilled professionals, we can no longer operate manually,” said Vu The Binh, vice president of the Vietnam Tourism Association.

Considering the double-digit growth recorded in tourism in recent years, the demand for personnel is paramount. However, training and employing more professionals cannot resolve the equation. Problems with booking and visa services persist, hurting the overall travel experience.

With limited and scattered information, the return rate of tourists is calculated between 10 and 40 percent for Vietnam, relatively low next to Thailand and Singapore with 60 to 70 percent, according to association.

Despite the low rate, tourism companies are struggling with reform due to their limited awareness and cost concerns. “There is a visible reluctance among companies to digitize, which needs to be resolved to strengthen the sector,” said Nguyen Chi Thanh, president of Toan Dung Media JSC.

He noted that provinces like Hue and Quang Nam have indeed made progress and adapted technology to facilitate certain operations. Yet, compared to its regional counterparts, Vietnam’s development of a state-of-the-art tourism industry lags behind.

Thanh called on companies to embrace technology as the cornerstone of their business, suggesting an overhaul of online reservation systems to create a cohesive and comprehensive user platform.

Another point raised at the conference focused on the somewhat cumbersome visa policy and how this procedure could also be simplified using technology. As for insufficient staff at travel destinations, automation may well be a viable option.

Artificial intelligence and facial recognition have been touted as beneficial for the private and public sectors. “Businesses such as hotels could use facial technology to simultaneously increase security, prevent crime and produce bespoke services,” Thanh noted.

Along with the system review, collecting neutral data through surveys, including wifi marketing, could help monitor the visitor experience, he added.

Vo Anh Tai, vice president of Saigontourist, said companies should prioritize and meet tourism needs as a benchmark for business and travel destinations. “By evaluating the comments, companies could better meet expected standards and contribute to the sustainable development of the industry.”

The number of foreigners visiting Vietnam in the first 11 months of this year is estimated at 16.3 million, a record high and up 15.3% year-on-year, according to official data.

Between 2016 and 2018, the average growth rate of foreign visitors to the country was 12.8%, from 10 million in 2016 to 15.6 million in 2018.

The Vietnam Travel and Tourism Summit 2019 was organized by the Department of Private Sector Development Studies under the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) and VnExpress .

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