World tourism body to help Vietnam
Update: May 13, 2010
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has pledged to help Vietnam’s tourism sector by training human resources and creating development schemes to promote certain attractions.

The pledge was made at the 22nd Joint Meeting of the UNWTO for East Asia and South Asia, which began in Hanoi on May 10 and finished on May 12.

The UNWTO conference titled “Tourism: A Key Driver for Social-Economic Development in Asia and the Pacific” took place at the same time.

UNWTO sent experts to areas including Ha Giang Province and Ba Be Lake in Bac Kan Province to develop the communities’ tourism industry.

In addition, UNWTO may send Vietnamese tourism officials to work in their headquarters in Spain to develop important skills.

Taleb Rifai, UNWTO’s General Secretary, already approved some of the activities in a meeting held in Spain with Director General of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) Nguyen Van Tuan earlier this year.

However, VNAT said they still had to confirm exact schedules with UNWTO to implement the plans.

In its latest world tourism report, UNWTO said that in 2010’s first two months 60 countries (among the 77 surveyed) experienced growth, of which 24 displayed double-digit increases, including Vietnam. Asia as a whole led the world’s tourism growth during the period.

International tourist arrivals increased an estimated 7% in January and February this year, while growth in Asia and the Pacific grew 10%.

VNAT reported that during the first four months of 2010, nearly 1.8 million foreign tourists visited Vietnam, up 35.7% year-on-year.

The tourism sector contributed about US$4.05 billion to the country’s GDP last year. Nearly 300 international tourism experts and officials from the Asia Pacific region participated in the meeting.