Hoi An wants Thai experts
Vietnamese tourism officials look for investors and assistance
As Vietnam plans to turn tourism into a key economic sector this year, the Unesco World Heritage-listed town of Hoi An needs more Thai investors and experts in hotel management to help provincial authorities develop its tourism sector, the town's deputy governor said.
"Our province wants Thailand to invest in hotels, resorts, homestays, spas, educational institutes and training centres for the local people who work in the tourism and service sector," Nguyen Van Son, deputy governor of Hoi An town, told the Bangkok Post reporter who was invited to visit the light festival and tourist attractions in Hoi An from Feb 2-5.
"More Asean tourists will visit Vietnam because Thailand is a regional hub and has good connections to both main and secondary cities," Mr Son said.
Hoi An is located in central Vietnam's Quang Nam province, facing the South China Sea. The well-preserved town was once a major trading port during the 15th to 19th centuries.
Meanwhile, the Vietnamese government continues to push central Vietnam as one of the major growth drivers for the national economy.
Denying that a surge of international arrivals to Vietnam poses threats to Thailand's tourism sector, Mr Son insisted that his country considers Thailand as a cooperator, not a competitor.
He encouraged both sides to deal with their own country's private tourism operators to come up with joint tour packages which will allow international tourists to explore both Thailand and Vietnam on a single trip.
An experienced Thai investor in this historical town, Peerapol Triyakasem, chairman of the Vietnam Centre, said that Vietnamese laws and politics now provide a supportive investment environment for foreign investors, including Thai nationals.
"At the moment, Hoi An does not have enough accommodation in response to the growing number of both international and domestic tourists, so the doors are open in terms of opportunity for Thai investors on this matter," Mr Peerapol said, adding that Thailand's credibility for investment is notable across Vietnam.
Besides tourism cooperation, Thailand also offers to step up educational cooperation on aviation, organic farming and research on wildlife animals in Hoi An, he said.
"In cooperation with Thailand, budget airline VietJet was given the nod for an aviation training programme to raise the skills of local pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers," he said.
The aviation training pact is expected to be signed at a seminar on investment which Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc will attend in Quang Nam province at the end of March. A Thai delegation is also invited to the seminar, according to the Vietnam Centre Chairman.
Aat Pisanwanich, director of the Centre for International Trade Studies at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, also brushed aside fears that Thailand would lose its charm to neighbouring countries' thriving tourism sectors.
"Thailand is the best country in the Asean community to handle tourism management. If we help the countries nearby develop their tourism industry, the investment opportunity for Thailand will increase," he said.
However, Mr Aat said that Vietnam will face unavoidable difficulties attracting more investors to the central part of the country as it still lacks proper basic infrastructure, standard hotels, a homestay system and a variety of tourist destinations.