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India, VN tourism bodies link up

HCM CITY – In addition to investment and trading, there is also huge potential for co-operation between Việt Nam and India in tourism, a conference heard in HCM City on Friday.

Võ Tân Thành, director of the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s HCM City office, said the number of Indian travellers to Việt Nam increased by nearly 3.5 times in the 2010-15 period to more than 60,000 last year.

India has also become an increasingly attractive travel destination for Vietnamese, especially for pilgrimages, with around 12,000 Vietnamese visiting the country each year, he said.

“Việt Nam and India have similar spiritual and cultural features, and therefore Indian spiritual tourism destinations like Bodhgaya and Varanasi attract a lot of Vietnamese visitors.”

India has also emerged as a medical tourism destination alongside Thailand and Singapore, with the sector growing by 27 per cent annually, he said.

Smita Pant, the Indian consul general in HCM City, said India has become a medical tourism hub for patients from around the world seeking affordable, world-class and professional medical care, with three million visiting the country last year.

Indian medical tourism is not only known for modern medicine, but also for its 5,000-year-old medicine systems using herbs, massages and various other forms of therapy for many illnesses, she said.

R K Suman, assistant director at the Indian Tourist office in Singapore, said apart from heritage and cultural attractions, India offers niche tourism products like adventure trips, medical, MICE and spirituality tourism, wellness, yoga, golf and others.

India wants to welcome more Vietnamese visitors, he said, adding that Vietnamese passport holders can easily apply for India visas via its electronic tourist visa system.

Despite the potential, the number of Vietnamese and Indian visitors visiting each other’s countries remains modest, the conference heard.

Bùi Tá Hoàng Vũ, director of the HCM City Department of Tourism, blamed this on the lack of information about each other’s markets.

To strengthen the exchange of visitors between HCM City and India in the near future, the city would constantly improve the quality of is tourism products and services and promote them, he said.

“We will also encourage people to go and discover ‘Incredible India’.”

His department together and some tourism companies would attend a tourism fair in Mumbai in February to promote the city in India, he said.

Thành suggested that the two countries should operate more direct flights to each other’s major destinations, develop suitable products for visitors, improve culinary services, simplify entry and exit procedures, and enhance co-operation in tourism promotion.

The conference was a good opportunity for businesses from both sides to meet, identify business opportunities, develop travel links, strengthen tourism exchanges, delegates agreed.

The conference titled Spiritual, Wellness and Medical Tourism to India was organised by the consulate and VCCI. – VNS

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