"The scale of operations of HCM City tourism is growing, but the management apparatus is getting smaller. Therefore, the city is bound to have the Department of Tourism for better management," HCM City's Vice Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Hong said.
According to Ms. Hong, in the first half of this year, 1.9 million international visitors came to the city, up 5 percent over the same period of 2012, nearly doubling the country's average number (2.6 percent) and accounting for 54 percent of the total number of international visitors to Vietnam.
At present, HCM City has more than 1,800 hotels and motels, with 42,000 ranked rooms with 29,000 businesses operating in the tourism sector. However, the bigger the scale of the tourism sector is, the state management apparatus is smaller. After the merger of the Department of Tourism and the Department of Culture - Sports and Tourism, the personnel for the tourism industry is thinner.
Hong said to develop HCM City's tourism in a professional way, the city must establish the Department of Tourism. The city has asked the government's permission to set up the tourist department.
Recently, the responsibility of the Department of Culture - Sports and Tourism of Ho Chi Minh City has been questioned because until the local media reported that Travel Life abandoned 700 Vietnamese tourists in Thailand. This agency knew that this travel agent did not have a license for supplying international tours.
In recent years, tourism has been a key economic sector of HCM City (contributing 11-15 percent of the city's GDP and 6 percent of the country's tourism revenue). However, robbery, fraud and overcharging have been on the rise, affecting Vietnam's tourism and the image of the country.
According to statistics from 10 hotels and 10 major tour operators in the city, there were 255 robberies of foreign visitors in 2012.
The local Department of Foreign Affairs received 222 complaints of foreigners on robbery and home burglaries while HCM City police recorded 117 cases related to foreigners, mainly robbery in 2012.
In an effort to professionalize tourism activities, HCM City has decided to operate the tourist information directory enquiries (number 1087) on a trial basis for two months.
Calling 1087, tourists will be supplied with information and answers for their questions about tourism in HCM City. The line is open 24/7, using Vietnamese and English.
The line also provides information on travel security (in coordination with the hot line of the mobile police,) information on tourism policy, tourism products, business travel, etc.
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