Vietnam: Creating sustainable tourism

Vietnam wants to strengthen its tourist sector. Germany and the EU are supporting the country to develop sustainable concepts for this purpose. A guest commentary from Jürgen Klimke, German MP


"Like an elongated S, Vietnam is spread out across a length of 1600 kilometres from the northern mountains down to the tropical Mekong Delta in the south. Personally, this country fascinates me time and again every time I visit. Its striking nature and the local culture never cease to amaze me. After two difficult years, the numbers of tourists are once again rising significantly. My contact partners from the political world and civil society there are unanimous in welcoming this development.

Situated in South-East Asia, Vietnam has long since shed its image as a destination for Vietnam war veterans and offers a range of scenic and cultural highlights with countless hotspots from the mountainous landscape of the north to the lush rainforest of the south. 4.7 million international tourists visited the country in the first half of 2016. This is an increase of around 20 percent compared to the previous year. However, this growth must be put into perspective. Firstly, Vietnam recorded stagnating and even declining numbers of tourists in 2014 and 2015. Secondly, measured against the country’s size and number of inhabitants, the number of international guests is still modest. Vietnam is ranked in eleventh place among the North-East and South-East Asian countries.

The Vietnamese government has stated that it aims to further strengthen the tourist se tor. After all, growth in this area goes hand in hand with an increase in the number of jobs and growing prosperity. In the areas developed for tourism such as Hanoi or the island of Phú Quoc, it is a pleasure for me to see the chances available for young people in the hotel industry, in retail and in craft businesses. Without tourists arriving from all over the world, none of this would be possible.

 

Since 2014, TUI Nordic has de- veloped the tropical island Phú Quoc as a new tourist des- tination – initially for the Scandi- navian market – and is the only European travel operator to offer direct flights to the new airport. 

I am delighted that German and European politics can contribute to this development. We have developed successful tourism concepts with Vietnam on an equal footing. These place emphasis not only on developing quality products that harness the advantages of Vietnam’s tourism targets, but also consider the social and environmental implications of tourism. Among other things, support from the European Union has enabled several thousand people across the country to be given training on sustainable tourism. 

Number of people in poverty halved

The Vietnamese government functions as a role model within the region in terms of fighting poverty. Since 1996, the amount of people living below the national poverty line has halved. The basis of this development is the creation of new jobs and an increasingly diversified economic structure – whereby tourism plays an important role. A further wave of privatisation of state-owned enterprises is now planned, which will be modernised with foreign capital and expertise. Not only does Vietnam have one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, it also offers great potential for investments in the tourism industry." 

 

Jürgen Klimke, German MP (CDU/ CSU) is a member of the German Foreign Affairs Committee and the German Parliamentary Committee for Economic Cooperation and Devel- opment. He is responsible on these committees for sustainable tourism and the region of South-East Asia.