Vietnam local travel means rapid changes for industry
Vietnam local travel, with rising incomes and greater opportunities to travel within Vietnam, the domestic tourism industry is in for some radical changes, with agencies expecting more of the country's 80mil people to hit the roads, railways and skies this year.
According to authorities, the tourism industry last year earned VND4.4tril (US$337mil) from local travellers, only 12% of the revenue generated from foreign visitors.
But, authorities and especially companies are banking on more local travellers. This year Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam officials foresee some 4.5mil local visitors, a 20% increase over 2006, while agencies expect the market's domestic travel segment to grow by at least 11% to 20mil people.
With the number of local travellers growing, agencies are battling to offer new tours and packages, and adjusting their business strategies to better compete.
Local tourists are already familiar with famous sites such as Ha Long Bay, Nha Trang, Phan Thiet, Phu Quoc and the Con Dao islands. Many of them have also toured Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia and China.
So to attract new clients, Ho Chi Minh City-based travel agencies have launched new tours with new offers to old haunts.
In February, Carnival organised a trip to Phan Thiet Vietnam during which the operators not only offered clients sightseeing opportunities but also taught them how to relax via yoga exercises with experts.
Dinh Kim Phuong, the company's director, says the tour targets elderly travellers, or kids who want to give their parents an opportunity to relax.
"With this new product, we want to launch a new, specialised tour to a familiar destination," says Phuong.
VYC Travel also began targeting certain segments of the market by offering caravan trips to neighbouring countries.
The overland tours offers more adventurous travellers the chance to drive vehicles from HCM City to Cambodia and Thailand. They can also drive to the Central region before crossing the border into Laos and then Thailand.
Tran Xuan Hung, deputy director of VYC Travel, says the company has turned a profit on the caravan tours after only a year in operation, and has plans to launch similar packages for people wanting to travel overland to Tibet, China.
Ben Thanh Tourist made their tours to the Mekong Delta more attractive by offering such events as rides on ostriches.
It is not only a race to offer new and exciting travels; but also to be the first.
Saigontourist Travel Agency made a reputation for itself after representatives in China secured train tickets on the Beijing to Tibet route shortly after it opened in July 2006.
"It's the age of competition, and it's problematic if your new tour is launched a day after your competitor's," said the manager of a Ho Chi Minh City travel agency who declined to be named.
The new options offered by agencies is not only in response to stiffer competition in the market, but also to consumers' changing tastes and preferences.
Local travellers have become more dynamic in arranging their own tours through the internet and low-cost air carriers. Local travellers for the first time can tailor their travel needs to their desires and budgets.
Le Thi Nhu Hieu, an accountant in a Ho Chi Minh City construction company who has recently booked tickets for Da Nang on Pacific Airlines, says she has only used a travel agent to help organise a room.
She handled making arrangement for other services, including sight-seeing tours and meals.
Hieu also saved VND500,000 by using the low-cost carrier, which will go toward travelling to sites she's never seen in the Central provinces, rather than visiting the familiar spots while on a guided group tour.
(Source: Viet Nam News)
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