Make Vietnamese airports more friendly

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VietNam News English - 36 month(s) ago 5 readings

Last week, Viet Nam News asks readers for their impressions of Viet Nam's national airports and what could be done to promote the country's tourism potential at these gateways.

This week:

International Women's Day, celebrated next week, has become extremely popular in recent years, especially in big cities.

On the day, women often receive flowers, gifts and best wishes from husbands, boyfriends and admirers.

The celebration partly shows that gender equality has been practised in Viet Nam.

However, many women do not agree, saying they seldom enjoy equality at home.

They have to bear a "double burden" of making money and doing housework with little help from the opposite sex.

How do you celebrate International Women's Day?

Is gender equality important in your country?

Do you think that sharing responsibilities is an indispensable factor in promoting equality amongst men and women?

Emails should be sent to: opinion@vnsmail.com – or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to this week's question must be received by Thursday morning, March 8.

Last week, Viet Nam News asks readers for their impressions of Viet Nam's national airports and what could be done to promote the country's tourism potential at these gateways.

Peter Wijewardene, Australian, Ha Noi

An immigration officer is usually the first official an arriving tourist meets. Visitors look at this person as an indication of the type of people living in that country.

In 1995, when I arrived in Ha Noi for the first time, it was a scene of stiff upper lips, immigration officers in army-style uniforms with big caps, brass emblems of authority and "blank looks" sitting in cubicles high above.

Now, things have dramatically changed. The immigration officers are still there, some with a good command of English. But still greetings, smiles, or general politeness and helpfulness is often missing. This includes the assistants who guide arrivals to various counters.

Recently, after an overseas holiday, I arrived back at Ha Noi with my family of three children to be greeted by an officer who was furious to have to handle so many people. He shouted that he could do only one at a time and asked us to disperse to five separate counters.

Tourists arriving for the first time would be shocked if they encountered such problems, especially those from other parts of Asia where courtesy is abundant. One must remember that Viet Nam is advertised as "the land of smiles."

At the arrival area at Noi Bai Airport many months ago, there were many duty-free shops to greet visitors, but for some unknown reasons they have all disappeared, creating a gloomy vacuum.

When one comes out into the arrival hall, there is no proper signage about public transport or taxis. A taxi counter should be set up inside the main arrival hall, and the system streamlined with fixed distance rates.

A bit of modernisation and a new airport building, free internet, clean toilets to international standards, well presented and groomed airport staff, good cafes, a few smiling girls in ao dai would resolve this "gloomy" outlook.

And the dollarisation of prices should be abandoned, as this not only contravenes Government rules and regulations, it gives a bad impression of the nation's standing.

Ngo Viet Anh, Vietnamese, Ha Noi

I don't think we need to wait until the second terminal at Noi Bai Airport to be completed before making improvements at all airports in Viet Nam. Why spend billions of dong advertising on CNN or international channels? Let's make some improvements at home.

I do not mind waiting for five hours at airports in Malaysia or Singapore since there are many shops to help kill time. That does not mean I spend money on buying luxury items. Shops fill vacant spaces and make airports look more friendly. They are the best place to advertise our local products and brand names.

Our international airports look similar to those in any Europe or the U S. There are no cultural elements integrated into the decorations that one can immediately associate with Viet Nam. While awaiting at Tan Son Nhat Airport, we're even bombarded with TV showcasing Korean and Chinese movies.

I accept that the food may be more expensive at airports than outside, but that does not mean passengers should also be subjected to bad service at food counters and restaurants. It seems that the people who serve at our airports take too much for granted.

The lack of friendliness is also something that we must improve. Travellers arriving for the first time can be easily lost in the confusion, especially without Vietnamese or English.

Cornea and Friday Bugler, Switzerland, Phu Quo Island

Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City is quite modern but the transfer from domestic to international terminal is far from ideal.

The two buildings are separate and it takes too much time to change from one to another in the heat.

There should be an inside connection that does not force you to leave the air-conditioned buildings.

Lawry Yeo, Singaporean, HCM City

Airports do play an important role in attracting tourists.

My first impression of a country is of its airport and its facilities - and the services to clear the immigration, languages and the customs. In Viet Nam these services are slow and need improvement.

The taxi system is a bit confusing when you are not used to being approached by taxi vendors.

Couldn't the taxis be more organised and in orderly queues?

Vietnamese airports need expanding to provide more shopping outlets and places to relax. — VNS

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