VietNamNet Bridge – Travel firms alone would not be able to attract more foreign tourists to Vietnam. In order to do that, Vietnam needs to apply reasonable policies.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) has decided that Vietnam needs to attract 7.2 million foreign travelers in 2013, higher than the 6.8 million in 2012. However, travel firms have doubts that the figure would be unattainable.
They have every reason to keep doubtful about the feasibility of the plan. Even in the high tourism season, which lasts from September to April, the number of foreign travelers still decreased sharply, by up to 30 percent in some localities. Especially, there were few potential tourists from Europe and the US, while there were more backpackers.
Few foreign travelers to Vietnam
“I do not think that Vietnam received 6.8 million foreign travelers in 2012. I think the actual figure was 1 million lower,” said Nguyen Van My, Director of Lua Viet travel firm.
Also according to My, about 500,000-600,000 backpackers come to Vietnam every year. The tourists do not spend much money, while it is always very difficult to control them. Therefore, this class of tourists has not been encouraged in other countries. Meanwhile, Vietnam still keeps the doors opened widely to them.
“We got tired of complaining. Therefore, we have to “live together with the problems” and we have to find our way,” My said.
Le Phong Tran, a senior executive of Fiditour, has also noted the sharp fall in the number of travelers from Europe and the US.
“The global economy still has not recovered from the crisis, while the air tickets from Europe to Vietnam are too expensive. Therefore, while the people still keep traveling, they decided to go to nearby markets to save expenses,” he explained.
Hotels have also confirmed the sharp decreases in the hotel room occupancy rate and the number of foreign guests.
Deputy General Director of New World Saigon Dang Huy Hai said the number of guests at five star hotels has decreased by 3-6 percent over the previous year.
When asked about the high number of tourists counted by the watchdog agency and the low number of tourists travel firms served in 2012, Hai said this could be explained by the fact that though foreign travelers arrived in Vietnam, but they did not stay in the country.
No reasonable policy to attract foreign travelers
Travel firms all complained that they cannot expect that a reasonable national policy would be set up to help attract foreign travelers. Therefore, they’d better to go their ways.
A senior executive of a travel firm said VNAT plans to carry out tourism promotion campaigns in 2013. However, the watchdog agency just targets the old and saturated markets such as Germany, Japan and Russia, where travel firms do not think they can find new partners.
However, the firms have decided to look for the ways to penetrate the new markets such as India or Sri Lanka.
Dr. Nguyen Nha, who has been known as the Vietnamese person pioneering in the campaigns to popularize Vietnamese cuisine in the world, has noted that in order to attract foreign tourists, Vietnam needs to satisfy them. However, this should be seen as the task of the whole nation rather than the task of travel firms alone.
Nguyen Minh Quyen, Deputy Director of Ben Thanh Tourism, said Thailand has successfully attracted tourists because it has been implementing a national program in a harmonization. Quyen believes that Vietnam also needs such a program.
The State should think of reducing tax, airlines should think of reducing the airfares, while travel firms reducing the tour fees and service providers reducing the service fees. Will only such a comprehensive plan help develop Vietnam’s tourism.