Written by Truyen Phuong, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism
In the last 3 years, the number of international visitors to Viet Nam nearly doubled, from 7.9 million arrivals in 2015 to 15.5 million arrivals in 2018, recording an average annual growth rate of 25 percent. UNWTO ranked Viet Nam among the fastest tourism-growing destinations in the world.
Vietnam Tourism is growing in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which significantly impacts all sectors of the economy, including tourism. The Revolution requires the tourism enterprises to renovate business operation in a more flexible and smarter manner, and also foster tourism startups with smart tourism products.
In recent years, boom of startup initiatives in technology application for tourism has been witnessed in Viet Nam, such as creative startup programs initiated by Song Han Incubator – one of the first private startup incubators founded in Da Nang since 2017; the contest “Ho Chi Minh City Innovative Startups in Tourism” held in 2018 by Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Tourism and Department of Science and Technology, and many other initiatives carried out nationwide.
Besides, in the region, the Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism launched by Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) also attracted the involvement of Vietnamese tourism startups.
To accelerate tourism growth in the context of strong development of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Prime Minister of Viet Nam has released a Directive on strengthening capacity to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution and released an Overall Project on Technology Application in Tourism period 2018-2020, direction to 2025. This was one of vital projects to implement the Government’s action plan on developing tourism into a key economic sector.
The determination of the Government has helped to create a favorable environment, enable close connections between stakeholders in tourism sector and trigger motivation for young tourism startups. By using advanced technology, startups have brought about added value for tourism products and destinations. The emergence of software applications and digital tourism platforms going in line with practical needs could be considered positive signal to improve competitiveness of Viet Nam tourism.
In 2019, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism in coordination with Song Han Incubator organized the Contest for Creative Startups applying technology for tourism development. Lasting from March to June 2019, the Contest was truly a playground for talented youth to introduce their creative products.
The contestants from every region in the country introduced a lot of creative customer-oriented initiatives such as: enjoying good food, online hotel booking, self-drive car rental, comparing and choosing vehicles, using clean energy in tourism, tourism planning tools, sharing experiences... These initiatives, by applying advanced technologies as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Block chain... have helped connect tourists and local services and created outstanding values for their products, contributing to the establishment of smart tourism ecosystem.
Not only competing in domestic contests, Vietnamese tourism startups step by step reached out their hands to international competitions. At the Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism organized in October 2019 in Bangkok (Thailand), two Vietnamese startups went through into the Final round, including Noir Blind Massage & Spa (in the Social Impact category) and GoEatMe (in the Travel Tech Ventures category).
GoEatMe is a travel and food platform that helps users find food easily within a short time.
GoEatMe’s target customers are international tourists to Viet Nam, who want to learn about Vietnamese culinary and culture. In October 2019, Viet Nam was named “Leading Asia’s culinary destination 2019” by the World Travel Awards.
Notably, Noir Blind Massage & Spa was honored the winner of the competition. Noir is a spa and massage facility staffed by visually impaired people, providing professional services and high quality experience for clients.
Starting a tourism business in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a leading movement nowadays. The innovation of young businesses has led to the creation of many excellent products satisfying increased demand of tourists, spreading the spirit of entrepreneurship in tourism community. Vietnam National Administration of Tourism committed to support the development of creative tourism startups to accelerate Vietnam tourism growth and actively contribute to the development of GMS tourism.