Travel sector anticipates decline in int’l arrivals
Vietnam's travel industry foresees a decline of international arrivals in the rest of this year due to rising costs, and the course is unchangeable unless strong publicity efforts are taken, according to a seminar over the weekend.
Signs of slowdown have surfaced, despite a modest growth in the first half, said participants to a seminar on Friday, citing feedback from their overseas travel agents and partners. The seminar was convened in HCMC by the Travel Department under the Vietnam National Administration for Tourism.
While figures show an increase in international arrivals in the firs six months, the coming time will be tough, said an executive of the country's leading travel firm Saigontourist.
"We've got a good result in international arrivals in the first half. However, feedback from overseas partners is that the coming situation would be difficult," said Vu Duy Vu, deputy director of Saigontourist Travel Service Company.
Like Vu, others pointed to a series of negative factors, especially a combination of rising costs, a strong increase of fuel surcharge, and inflation. The Travel Department itself also showed its concerns at the seminar attended by representatives of 40 travel firms.
The number visitors from important markets of the country's inbound sector have fallen, such as that from China decreasing 7.6%, Japan down 3.6%, South Korea down 6.6%, and the U.S. down 3.5%, according to the department.
"This is a serious problem because the four markets are contributing around 40% of total foreign arrivals in the country," according to the department's report.
Participants estimated that the sector's growth for the whole year will be lower than expected.
Nguyen Van Tran, general director of APEX-Vietnam Co., Ltd., agreed to the reasons, adding poor tourism products and the lack of effective promotion campaigns giving more woes to the sector.
"The number of Japanese visitors to Vietnam has decreased as the current fuel surcharge for Vietnam-Japan flight is US$200, while hotel room rates are high coupled with rising consumer costs due to inflation," he said, adding poor tourism product quality was also a reason.
A report from the travel department showed that the total number of foreign visitors to the country in the first half this year is nearly 2.29 million, an increase of 8.1% year-on-year compared to the department's expected growth of 12-17%. Especially, the number of international arrivals last month has decreased.
Meanwhile, the government website has quoted a report from the Ministry of Planning and Investment to put the total number of international arrivals in the first half at 2.5 million, higher than the tourism sector's figure.
This is the first time since the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2003 that the tourism sector is taking about a decline in arrivals.
At the seminar, the travel department suggested solutions to help the travel sector to cope with difficulties. Some of them included reorganizing promotional activities, developing products, and expanding the China market and cruise passengers among others.
However, entrepreneurs proposed that the tourism authority take more efforts in promoting the country's tourism image.
"I think that the tourism authority should change publicity by making international events at home to get better results to promotion," said Le Dinh Tuan, director of Tan Hong tourism company.
Nguyen Van Tan, chairman of the JTB-TNT Co., said that the tourism authority should establish strong relationship with big international tourism companies in foreign countries for attracting more international visitors to Vietnam.
The inbound sector contributes a big part to the country's tourism revenue. The sector generated VND27 trillion in total revenue of VND39 trillion of the country's tourism in the first half, says the travel department's report.
(Source: SGT, URL: http://english.vietnamnet.vn/travel/2008/07/793753/)
Other news posted: