New Emissary

Vietnam—Popular & Green?

Not yet a regional heavy hitter, but its tourism seems to be getting big and…green.

Our correspondent Luke Hunt earlier this month pointed out the complicated relationship between China and its smaller neighbour in his piece, Vietnam, China’s Little Sister, which sparked some lively debate amongst our readers.

Although there isn’t a clear consensus yet on whether Vietnam is really about to become a force to be reckoned with in the region, one thing that seems more certain is that the Vietnamese travel industry is in itself a dragon rising.

In an article published in Vietnamese daily Thanh Nienon Sunday it was reported that the country’s national air carrier, Vietnam Airlines, will add more than 800 flights to its domestic routes this summer to respond to a big surge in travel. Vietnam News also reported today that in fact, the country saw about 440,000 foreign arrivals last month, which is 50 percent higher than May of last year.

Also mentioned is that while many Vietnam-bound tourists currently hail from places including Australia, South Korea and France, the number of Chinese visitors has most grown significantly—by 111 percent since the same time last year. The overall influx of tourists has also been in large part credited to increased efforts by the country to promote large-scale cultural events, such as the 35th anniversary of national reunification last month.

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Meanwhile, another recent article published at the weekend by VietNamNet Bridge suggests that eco-tourism is the next big thing in travel for Vietnam. Ninety-seven percent of tourists interviewed in a survey stated that they’d pay more for environmentally and local-friendly travel. The country is responding to this new consumer demand by reportedly developing ‘its billion-dollar tourism industry but with an emphasis on “responsible travel.”’

I wonder if this might be at all connected to Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan’s appearance at the International Conference on The Future of Asia in Tokyo recently, where he was quoted on the emerging desire of his country to become more ‘green’:

‘Vietnam is also taking steps to restructure the economy toward reducing a number of high energy-and resource-consuming enterprises and to replace them with energy-efficient ones making use of environment-friendly and cost-reasonable technologies,’ said Nguyen, while also presenting attendees the question: ‘what measures now need to be taken with a new model of sustainable development across the region that will ensure that Asia remains the most ‘dynamic region in the world?’