The latest figures from the General Statistics Office (GSO), show international arrivals for the 10 months leading up to November dipped 4.1% against last year’s corresponding period to just 6,338,611 travellers.
The GSO said its figures also show a clear downward trend in the on-year comparisons for the preceding four months of June, July, August and September with arrivals having fallen off significantly in all four months.
However, many experts point out that the GSO lumps all types of entries including travellers on border passes and on business and social visas in the category of international arrivals.
“So the collection methods are inherently skewed to make the statistics appear better than they really are,” they say.
“The numbers actually even include day trippers on border passes, who don’t even spend a night in Vietnam.”
Worse yet they caution, is the fact that many of the international arrivals are backpackers, who bring in very few tourism dollars and do little to buttress long-term sustainability of the industry.
Of the 10 month total, 4,507,386 inbound travellers entered through the country’s international airports, 1,792,559 came into the country by road with the balance of 38,666 arriving on board cruise ships.
Many of these same experts say the sheer numbers of inbound tourists are paltry by comparison to the tens of millions experienced by countries and regions around the globe of similar size and demographics as Vietnam.
Meanwhile Deputy Director Nguyen Bao Anh of the Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Promotion Centre recently divulged that the city is taking the future of tourism into its own hands.
At a recent press conference Anh told reporters the city is banking on turning the sagging tourism numbers around with a good turnout for the annual international food festival, which kicks off 9am to 10pm daily December 3-6 at the September 23 Park in HCM City.
“This year attendance at the festival is forecast to expand by as much as 30% against last year and draw a record high whopping 300,000 festivalgoers,” Anh unveiled at the presser.
Anh revealed that the Mediterranean cooking of Greece as well as New Zealand cuisine – guaranteed to be a much welcomed addition to the festival – are making their appearance at the festival for the first time.
In addition, the World Food Culture Centre (WFCC) based out of the Republic of Korea (RoK) will have its own designated area for demos covering topics on just about everything related to cooking traditional and contemporary Korean dishes.
The Saigon Professional Chef Association has also disclosed it has plans to attempt to break two Guinness Vietnam records related to vegetarian food and fruit carvings at the event, Anh said.
The third day of the festival will feature a Five-Star Hotel Chef Party on the main stage of the park, with the participation of 22 of the world’s top restaurants participating.
Others events planned include music and dance performances, an ASEAN photo exhibition, bartender shows, and a talk show with winners of the three latest seasons of the Chiec Thia Vang (Golden Spoon) cooking contest.
“We’re going all out for this year’s festival,” said Anh as it provides a great opportunity to turn the tourism industry around and give the international community the inside scoop on what the Vietnamese allure as a top tourism destination is all about.