A recently signed agreement between India and the Vietnamese Ministry of Transport will serve as an important legal framework to facilitate the development of their transport infrastructure, Billa noted at a tourism promotion event held by the Vietnamese Embassy in New Delhi on March 24.
He said that India is one of the two countries that have had the most tourists going overseas in the world, and encouraged Vietnamese people to visit. He also suggested that if promotional activities are conducted effectively, Viet Nam will be a magnet for Indian visitors because it possesses a multitude of attractive destinations, a rich culinary culture and many shared spiritual and cultural similarities with his country.
General Director of the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism, Nguyen Van Tuan, said numerous measures have been taken to strengthen bilateral cooperation, particularly in tourism, since Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to India last October.
Following the decision of India’s second biggest carrier, Jet Airways, to open a direct air route to Viet Nam, the Southeast Asian country’s national flag carrier Viet Nam Airlines is also planning to launch a direct route to India. This will fuel tourism between the nations, Tuan claimed.
Minister Counsellor of the Vietnamese Embassy, Tran Quang Tuyen, said India has seen the world’s fastest growth in the number of citizens travelling overseas, from 4.4 million in 2000 to 17 million in 2013, up by 13 percent per year on average. The figure is expected to hit 50 million by 2020.
Although Viet Nam welcomed 55,000 Indian tourist arrivals in 2014, a surge from 12,000 in 2007, the number accounted for only 0.07 percent of the total foreign visitors to Viet Nam and 0.03 percent of Indian tourists who spent their holidays overseas.
Meanwhile, only 12,000 Vietnamese people visit India every year, with the majority heading to Buddhist relic sites such as Gaya, Varanasi, and Kushinagar, he noted. He said that this proves tourism cooperation is far behind where it should be.
Tuyen urged for both countries step up tourism promotion and open more direct air routes as soon as possible.