On the morning of Tuesday, 16 April 2024, the EuroCham Tourism & Hospitality Sector Committee (THSC) brought together leading voices from across Vietnam’s travel industry for an insightful breakfast talk. Held at the Sofitel Saigon Plaza, the event titled “Travel Together: Building Partnerships and Collaboration across the Tourism Industry” explored the crucial role of cooperation in developing a more robust and environmentally-conscious tourism ecosystem.

The program commenced with opening remarks from THSC’s leadership team, including Chairman Mario Mendis, Vice Chairwoman Wendy Vu, and Treasurer Erkan Tuncaakar. They underscored THSC’s mission to serve as a collaborative platform for addressing key challenges, and promoting Vietnam as a world-class destination for European companies and travelers.

Joining the dialogue was a representative from the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism, Deputy Director Le Truong Hien Hoa. He highlighted HCMC’s tourism successes in 2023, which saw the city attract 35 million domestic visitors and 5 million international arrivals, generating total tourism and service revenue of VND 160,000 billion. Mr. Hoa outlined HCMC’s ambitious plans to further elevate its tourism promotion efforts through domestic and international marketing campaigns in 2024. He expressed sincere appreciation for THSC’s invaluable partnership in spotlighting HCMC to European markets.

The event’s discussion centered around two panel sessions that drilled down into the pressing issues and opportunities facing Vietnam’s tourism industry as it enters a pivotal year of recovery in 2024. The first panel, moderated by Nuno F. Ribeiro and featuring speakers Wendy Vu and Erkan Tuncaakar, scrutinized ongoing operational hurdles such as overcrowding at airports, exorbitant flight costs, and the lack of visa exemptions for European Union nationals.

Panelists advocated for strategic investments in modernizing infrastructure, implementing smarter queueing systems, expanding visa policies, and nurturing innovative partnerships between international and domestic airlines to create seamless mobility between global hubs and Vietnam’s top destinations. A key highlight was the renewed emphasis on providing stellar service and leaving positive first and final impressions at entry points – crucial factors influencing visitor satisfaction, repeat travel, and word-of-mouth recommendations.

The second panel, also led by Nuno F. Ribeiro with speakers Mr. Mendis, Martin Koerner and Lukasz Kozlowski, shifted its lens towards long-term sustainability and human resource development. As Vietnam aims to solidify its standing as a competitive tourism powerhouse in Southeast Asia, panelists examined best practices for fostering cross-industry collaboration that equitably benefits all stakeholders – from global hotel brands and local vendors to communities and natural environments.

Discussions centered on quantifying the costs and returns of proactive sustainability initiatives, the ongoing challenges of recruiting and upskilling talent, and policy reforms needed to improve regional air connectivity and open skies for more international carriers. Overarchingly, panelists echoed the collective desire to “travel together” towards a future where Vietnam’s awe-inspiring natural, cultural and man-made attractions can be responsibly shared with the world for generations to come.

THSC extends an invitation to all companies invested in Vietnam’s tourism future to join its collaborative advocacy efforts. To learn more about membership and activities, please contact Ms. Linh Dinh at linh.dinh@eurochamvn.org.

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