Mrs. Khang loves Nha Trang very much, but this year she’s going to Phan Thiet. talked her family members into skipping it this summer. “If we go to Nha Trang, we will do the things we’ve done every year – going to the beach, swimming, which we did last summers: bathing in the sea, bathing in mud, riding the cable car out to the island, water sports. “There’s nothing new,” Khang says. “I’m fed up.”
In fact, Nha Trang has added new attractions, like surfing, balloon excursions, and diving in the bay. However, those activities aren’t for the average tourist. Khang says the itineraries of the tours offered by travel firms haven’t changed a bit.
Nguyen Cong Hoan at Hanoi Redtours admits that many packaged tours, whether domestic or outbound, are virtually identical. It doesn’t matter what the destination is.
“A lot of small travel firms save costs by copying the products of the bigger companies,” Hoan says. But not all -- some travel firms have been trying to ‘renovate’ tours by providing added value. Generally, however, the added value just last for a while, and disappears when the ‘season’ ends.
For example, while the World Cup matches are underway, travelers may be given the bulletins on the results of football matches. Some travel firms are offering opportunities for their clients to watch football matches on giant screen TV’s after a day of sightseeing, and have free drinks. However, these amenities will only last one month, from mid-June until the championship match in mid-July.
Similarly, a number of agencies are arranging special trips from HCM City to Vung Tau for its July 21-25 “World Foods Festival.”
Tran The Dung at the The He Tre (‘Young Generation’) agency agrees that the ‘added value’ that travel firms provide to ‘renovate’ familiar tours tends to be short-lived. Dung says that travelers would be very pleased if they were led to new and attractive destinations.
On a trip to Nha Trang, for example, travelers could be led to visit My Nghiep brocade village or Bau Cat, a Cham pottery village which is said to be the oldest in South East Asia. Visitors to Phan Thiet could be taken to see the lotus blooming at Phan Ri. Not far from Hue is the marvellous Lang Co beach and fishermens’ village and the superb views from atop the Hai Van Pass.
There are many landscapes and beautiful beaches on the north-south route, including the Đai Lanh coast in Phu Yen Province, the Sa Huynh coast in Quang Ngai and Đa Nhay beach in Quang Binh. If they tour the northwest, travelers can be led to the villages of the Tai, Dao and H’mong peoples.
Vietnam has lots of places with a special attraction, Dung concludes, and it is tour leaders who ought to be the ‘living books’ that will help their clients appreciate their country more.
However, Nguyen Minh Quyen of the Thanh Nien Xung Phong ‘Youth Attack’]Travel Agency says that there are many objective reasons why tours become old and uninspired. Vietnam’s infrastructure remains underdeveloped; the number of destinations remains limited while familiar destinations cannot invest in new products to attract traveler