Modernity will take place in big cities
I have lived in Vietnam for a year and I am glad to have witnessed the transition between 2011 and 2012 in one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. Expats that came to Vietnam ten years ago said the country has changed to a point newcomers like me wouldn't be able to imagine. Even Vietnamese living abroad are often amazed by the constant evolution of the cities when they come back to their home country once every two or three years.
What are my predictions for Vietnam for 2012 and onward? There will be more buildings here and there, modern shopping malls, and more restaurants serving food from around the world in big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
If I had only one expectation, one wish about Vietnam, it would be an ability to let them accept the economical change whilst keeping their Vietnamese identity. Isn’t it time to bring back Asian wisdom?
Alain Tinlot (Swiss, working in hotel industry)
The digital age changes the way we communicate
I believe there will be changes in education next year, and change will occur on a positive trajectory. As a foreigner, I have to say I’m so lucky to work in this dynamic and rapidly progressing country, which treasures education and its teachers dearly. Working in international tertiary education, what strikes me the most is increasing technological access for teachers and students alike.
As Vietnam surges into the future, so too does the use of digital media, specifically social media. I teach professional communication focused on public relations and advertising. And I’m amazed by how central social media is becoming to both of these professions. The digital age is changing the way we communicate with each other and how we receive messages.
Society is never static. There are ongoing changes and expectations with each new generation, and this has never been more evident than for today’s youth. I think this comes on the back of exciting times for Vietnam, which keeps powering ahead in leaps and bounds. I feel a buzz every time I interact with my students – their optimism and ambition is electrifying. Yet while communication habits and the way people send and receive messages continually evolve, human nature, I believe, stays the same.
Jade Bilowol (Australian, lecturer, Professional Communication Program at the RMIT International University Vietnam)
2012, good year for tourism, bad year for environment
Vietnam’s outlook for tourism in the new year will be slow but positive. Unfortunately the environment is another story.
The tourism industry will continue to grow in 2012, but at only a slight rate due to global recession and poor government marketing strategies. Tourism in the Central Highlands, northern Vietnam (outside Hanoi) and the Mekong will decline slightly. Hanoi and HCMC will remain at current levels but tourism in coastal areas will increase moderately.
Whether Vietnam officially accepts the New 7 Wonders designation for Ha Long Bay, or finally declines it, I predict the outcome will have relatively no effect on tourism levels. Ha Long Bay will continue to be a major attraction but be fraught with safety issues.
Development of the Long Wall of Quang Ngai as a tourist attraction will slowly continue, and years later will draw more tourists than Ha Long Bay.
The year 2012 will be transitional for Mui Ne. The beach will begin to take on more of an impersonal party-town feel, characteristic of a Thailand tourist destination. Crime, traffic accidents, drownings and pollution will all increase. The tourism industry will grow in 2012 but at more moderate levels than 2011.
The year 2011 was a bad year for the environment, but 2012 will be worse. Vietnam will push forward with dams at the Cat Tien UNESCO Biosphere, despite controversy. UNESCO will fail to address the issue, despite serious degradation of the park.
Meanwhile, wild Asian elephants will be pushed to the edge of extinction in Vietnam due to poaching of ivory and tail hair. Debate will also arise over whether wild tigers are now officially extinct in Vietnam due to trafficking and ‘tiger farming’. Vietnamese authorities will continue to make impressive seizures of trafficked wildlife but it will not deter the overall rate of wildlife trafficking.
Adam Bray (American, writer & photographer, contributed to more than 25 travel guidebooks on Vietnam and Southeast Asia)