The 14th National Assembly passed the 2017 Law on Tourism (amended) at its third meeting on June 19, creating a clear legal corridor, driving force and favourable conditions for tourism development.
Containing many new points, the Law on Tourism (amended) is expected to bring about positive effects, improving the quality and competitiveness in tourism activities in Vietnam.
Developing tourism into a spearhead economic sector
One of consistent points of view in the 2017 Law on Tourism is to consider tourists as the centre of all tourism activities. Many relevant contents, including regulations on the responsibility of People’s Committees at all levels and management boards of tourism destinations; business activities of organisations and individuals in the field of travel service; tourist accommodation and tour guides; and the business of other travel services, have been adjusted and supplemented in order to ensure the security, safety, and the legitimate rights and interests of tourists, as well as creating favourable conditions for visitors.
Domestic tourism has developed rapidly over the course of the past few years, however, due to a lack of regulations on licensing, many organisations and individuals have not set up business, or have not announced when their business will commence, to the provincial tourism authorities. In addition, many travel enterprises have cut down on their programmes and services, as well as not ensuring the quality of their services, causing disorder and unfair competition. Therefore, in order to ensure the interests of domestic tourists, the 2017 Law on Tourism stipulates that enterprises are only allowed to trade in travel services within the country after receiving permission.
With the aim of encouraging organisations and individuals trading in the tourist accommodation-service to improve their quality, ensure the interests tourists on the basis of respecting market rules, and reduce the impact of administrative measures in business activities, the Law regulates the minimum conditions on technical facilities and services for accommodation establishments to ensure the quality of minimum services for all tourist accommodation establishments. During their business, the accommodation establishments that have the need to affirm the quality of their services, as well as create brand names and prestige for tourists, will register in order to be ranked by the relevant State agencies.
Identifying the important role of tour guides in conveying cultural and historical information, connecting tourist services and caring for visitors to contribute to improving the image and position of the country, localities and destinations, the Law has adjusted and supplemented regulations on conditions for the practice of tour guides.
Institutionalising the Resolution No.08-NQ / TW released on January 16, 2017 by the Politburo on developing tourism into a spearhead economic sector, the Law on Tourism stipulated more specific and feasible policies. Accordingly, tourism individuals and entities are entitled to the highest incentives and supports for investment, as the State issues and applies the relevant policies. The Law also regulates a number of specific policies for tourism activities according to the degree of prioritisation resources allocated to them from the budget or those encouraged and supported by the State.
The 2017 Law on Tourism supplements the regulations on the right of organisations and individuals in creating, developing and trading tourist products. Under the Law, the Government is assigned to orient and adopt policies to support the development of key tourist products which are suitable to each region and specific period; to encourage and support research and orientation activities to develop tourist products; and enhance the investment in new projects that have a positive impact on the environment.
Notably, the Law also covers regulations on community-based tourism – a unique tourism product aiming to promote the cultural and tourism identities of the localities and featuring the participation and management of the community. This tourism type is expected to contribute to the socio-economic development of the localities that are facing many difficulties and will bring direct benefits to the ethnic minority groups.
In addition to basic services such as travel, transportation, accommodation and guides, the 2017 Law on Tourism adds provisions on other tourism services such as diversifying tourism services, forming large shopping centres, chains of restaurant, stores and other services to meet the visitors’ demand as well as to increase their stay and expenditure.
The Law also adjusted the conditions and the time for recognition of national and provincial tourist areas and destinations in accordance with reality and feasibility. It is expected that once the Law takes effect, more tourist areas and destinations will be recognised, significantly contributing to forming high-quality tourism products, as well as enhancing the promotion of Vietnamese tourism brands and therefore attracting more visitors.
Improving competitiveness, creating breakthroughs
The adjusted provisions of the 2017 Law on Tourism are expected to improve the competitiveness and create breakthroughs for tourism activities in Vietnam.
Accordingly, the quality of tourism services will be improved through granting domestic travel business permissions; professionalising tourism business activities by regulating the professional qualifications of people in charge of travel businesses; improving the management of guide services and improving both the quantity and quality of tour guides. Management agencies will attach special importance to the visitors’ rights and interests, to ensure visitor satifaction.
Regulations on the classification of tourist accommodation establishments, on the basis of voluntary registration, are expected to create favourable conditions for the establishments to proactively decide their service quality in order to promote their brand and promote healthy competition.
Under the law, the issuance of international travel licenses will be more simplified than previous regulations. The enterprises can directly submit and apply for licenses to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) instead of registering at the provincial or municipal Departments of Tourism before applying to the VNAT.
Tourism agencies and enterprises will be given the right to proactively spend money in their promotion activities. The support fund for tourism development will become an important factor in addressing the current difficulties in resources of the tourism sector, creating an essential financial resource to meet the requirements in implementing promotion activities, building brands for products, training human resources and developing institutional capacity for the sector. Thanks to the fund, tourism activities will be proactively and professionally developed, contributing to boosting the growth of Vietnam’s tourism in line with the Government’s targets and plans in the near future.
In order to effectively implement the 2017 Law on Tourism, bringing a positive impact on the country’s tourism, all agencies, organisations and individuals working in the tourism, as well as the relevant sectors, should actively participate in all activities.
State management agencies need to continue to complete the legal system on tourism and urgently develop detailed regulations to promptly bring the Law on Tourism into practice, as well as to propose amendments to the relevant legislative documents for the tourism development. In addition, it is essential to enhance the communication and education of the Law among travel enteprises, workers, visitors and all of the social community, as well as to strictly implement the state management of tourism, in accordance with the Law.
Tourism enterprises should proactively learn and update the Law on Tourism and detailed regulations; strictly comply with the legislation in general and the law on tourism in particular; and ensure all business conditions.
Workers in the tourism sector need to uphold the spirit of training and improving their knowledge, as well as to seriously abide by the Law and have a sense of promoting the country’s beautiful image while serving visitors. Notably, visitors should raise their awareness and responsibility in their behaviour whilst travelling.