Vietnam high inflation hindering travellers
The September 2 holiday is nearing, but Vietnam travel firms have not seen large numbers of clients booking Vietnam tours.
Despite skyrocketing prices, Vietnam travel firms dare not raise tour fees, while they are launching a lot of promotion programmes in order to stimulate demand. However, it seems that the promotion programmes are not helping them much.
Domestic, foreign travellers both down
Director of Lua Viet Travel Nguyen Van My seemed almost disappointed about the current tourism demand. He said that the market is gloomy for many reasons. The September 2 holiday will fall on Tuesday, so office workers, the main clients of travel firms, will not have a long holiday for travelling. Moreover, as the inflation rate is high and aviation fees are skyrocketing, people now have to tighten their belts and cancel travel plans.
My said that the situation is so serious that he would be happy if his company gained just 80% of the turnover of last year.
In previous years, travel firms all raised tour fees on holidays and tried to raise the numbers of clients. Meanwhile, they prove to be not so ambitious this year.
A representative of Vietravel said that Vietravel is not raising fees for domestic tours in order to stimulate demand. It has only raised tour fees for outbound tours by 5-7% as a result of higher airfares. However, tours to Hong Kong and China will see fees unchanged.
Saigontourist has launched a lot of promotion campaigns to lure clients. Those who book outbound tours to Thailand, Hong Kong and China now will enjoy discounts of $10-20/person.
However, despite a lot of exertion, Vietnam tours provided by Vietnam travel firms are not fully booked. Vietravel, Lua Viet and Fiditour all say that they are still selling tours for the September 2 holiday.
The number of foreign travellers coming to Vietnam has also been decreasing. Nguyen Viet Long, Head of the Foreign Travellers Division under Vietourist, said that the number of foreign travellers proves to be very modest.
Long said that it is partially because of higher tour fees. High inflation is a problem in many countries, and citizens of these countries have to save their money by cancelling travel plans.
Long was told that many families in Europe have decided to go camping to a near place instead of going abroad.
However, Long said, foreign travellers coming to Vietnam are mostly rich ones. They always choose high-quality tours, stay at 4-5 star hotels or resorts. Moreover, they like travelling far to the central region (Hoi An, Da Nang and Hue) instead of near places like Sam Son or Cua Lo beaches.
Travel firms trembling
One of the reasons behind the decreased number of tourists, according to travel firms, is that companies have decided to give bonuses to their staffs in cash instead of organising tours.
As travel firms have not reached the targeted numbers of travellers, they still have to make efforts to lure more clients. My from Lua Viet said that Vietnamese people do not have the habit of making plans in advance; they always make decisions right before departure time. Therefore, travel firms will have to wait some more time, hoping to sell more tours in some days.
Small travel firms prove to be more miserable nowadays as the number of clients has been depressingly decreasing. Danh, a tour guide for a small travel firm in Binh Thanh district in Ho Chi Minh City, related that he is facing the risk of ‘sitting idle’ in the travel season.
“If the number of travellers is not high enough for my company to organise separate tours, groups of travellers will be merged into each other, which spells that a lot of tour guides will become redundant,” Danh explained.
Attracting travellers with beauty queens
Travel firms have been trying to associate the final round of Miss Vietnam beauty contest, to take place at Song Hoai Square in Hoi An town on August 31, with tours to lure more travellers. “Travel on September 2 holiday to attend Miss Vietnam beauty contest”, and “The night of crowning Miss Vietnam in Hoi An ancient town” are the slogans launched by many travel firms.
Fiditour said that it has marketed 12 tours designed specifically for the September 2 holiday with the departure on August 29 which focus on the pageant. It is clear that the tours are more salable than others. In previous years, travellers liked going to the sea, while they now prefer the beauty contest, according to Fiditour.
Moreover, travel firms have also been trying to attract travellers with cultural events. Lua Viet, for example, is trying to lure travellers to Binh Thuan province, where the biggest festival of Mid-Autumn lanterns in South East Asia will take place.
(Source: Vietnamnet, URL:http://english.vietnamnet.vn/travel/2008/08/800485/)