How to attract foreign tourists to return to Vietnam
Tourists to Vietnam, strengthening tourism advertising through international events and telecommunication channels is an effective measure that Vietnam’s tourism sector is taking.
However, to encourage tourists to return to Vietnam requires a great effort from both the tourism sector and the whole community.
According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the country received more than 2.5 foreign tourists in the first seven months of this year, fulfilling 52.3 percent of the set target or 10.6 percent more than the same period last year.
It earned VND64,000 billion. This is good news for the tourism sector which aims to welcome 4.8 million to 5 million foreign tourists this year when the country is facing a number of difficulties due to high inflation rate.
However, figures do not manifest a real growth rate. It is a sad fact that over the past years most foreign visitors who came to Vietnam have never come back. Some estimates put the figure at as high as 80 percent.
A VNAT official pointed out subjective reasons, including poor infrastructure, high prices compared to those in other regional countries, unqualified human resources, poor quality of services and monotonous products.
These are quite contrary to the existence of famous landscapes, beautiful eco-tourism sites and unique cultural relics which are only found in Vietnam.
Regional information shows that each tourist will spend around US$1,200- 1,500 in Thailand and US$1,500- 2,000 in Singapore while only US$300-700 in Vietnam.
This means that despite a great effort, Vietnam has not done a simple thing that is to create opportunities for tourists to spend money.
To develop the tourism industry, two words “planning” and strategy” have been repeated many times. However, Vietnam has just drawn up general plans and development strategies, instead of detailed plans.
Two decades are gone but the tourism industry has not developed as expected. There remains an outstanding issue between exploitation and preservation.
Halong Bay and Sapa in the north are typical examples of inconsistency in carrying out development plans along with “socialization of tourism”.
One of the reasons that make foreign tourists unwilling to come back to Vietnam is simple and monotonous tourism services and products, and not to mention overcharging for souvenirs and tourism products, poor quality of goods, pick pocketing and street vendors which cause inconvenience to tourists.
“Vietnamese smile” is the most beautiful symbol for stable and friendly tourism environment. In reality it rarely appears on the faces of air stewardess and customs officers.
Many newspapers once covered a story that hundreds of foreign passengers on an international cruise ship received indifferent waving hands of girls wearing the traditional Ao Dai (long dresses), instead of being all smiles when they landed at a Vietnamese port.
Meanwhile, China launched a “smile campaign” at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, with a warm response from citizens. Beijing became a capital of millions of smiles.
Vietnamese people are not fully aware of creating a friendly and open environment to welcome foreign tourists.
“Socialisation of tourism” aims to speed up infrastructure construction in the country. It’s not a community-based to achieve sustainable development.
Tourism promotion is one of eight top priority measures to attract international visitors. The tourism industry will spend around VND16 billion promoting its diverse services in closing months of this year on international telecommunication channels.
What often makes a visitor return to a country is not a comfortable life but a smile or a beautiful landscape. Vietnam has both factors. However, it requires a greater effort from both the tourism industry and the whole community to bring international visitors back to Vietnam.
(Source: VOV, URL:http://english.vietnamnet.vn/travel/2008/09/802151/)
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