Ho Chi Minh City with its proximity to a diverse river and canal system is focusing now more on river tourism for both domestic and foreign visitors.
The City has a friendly brand image and has become increasingly popular with domestic and foreign tourists. It is constantly working towards an efficient and functional development, focused on building and completing new projects and trying to meet the varied demands of tourists.
The number of foreign visitors coming to Ho Chi Minh City count for 60 percent of all international visitors to Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City has held amazing city tours and destinations such as Cu Chi tunnel, Ben Thanh Market, Sac Forest in Can Gio District, Duc Ba Church and its various museums are always flocked with tourists. However, the city has not improved further on its existing tourist tours. The city has become more of a transit, unable to hold visitors for long.
The city has the beautiful Saigon River which it must take more advantage of and develop into a river tourism itinerary.
Nguyen Viet Anh, head of the City Travel Division under the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism said the first Saigon River tour service was launched in January, from Bach Dang Wharf in District 1 to Ham Long Artisan Village in District 2.
More river tour itineraries are being explored, such as those between Bach Dang Wharf and the suburban district of Cu Chi, the neighbouring province of Binh Duong and to District 9.
The city will develop tourism in Can Gio District by extending river tours to the region.
Some companies have clinched deals with Ham Long Artisan Village in District 2 to take tourists to the scenic village by river cruise. However, the numbers of tourists travelling on this route are still few. Much more marketing needs to be done to develop this sector.
Other than develop river tourism, the industry will conduct training programs for human resources and improve professional skills in staff for tourism and business management, focusing on soft skills like receptionists, housekeeping and tour guides.
Ho Chi Minh City is amongst the leading tourist cities in the world. In 2010, Ho Chi Minh City received 3.1 billion international tourists, an increase of 20 percent against 2009, earning a turnover of VND41 trillion, up 17 percent since 2009.
In 2011 the city targets to reach the mark of 3.5 international tourists (increasing by 11 percent) and bringing the turnover to VND49 trillion (increasing by 20 percent).