In April 2010, the Vietnam National Administration of Vietnam (VNAT) quoted the report by the General Statistics Office as saying that in the first four months of the year, Vietnam received 16,000 foreign tourists by sea, a decrease of 36.4 percent from the same period of 2009.
The statistics released by the state management agency are far different from the numbers cited by Vietnam travel firms.
Vietnam now has three big travel firms receiving cruise passengers, including Saigontourist, Tan Hong – Du Ngoan Viet and OSC Travel (SMI). Other travel firms also sometimes receive tourists from cruises.
Saigontourist reported that the firm received 25,000 tourists at ports along the coast of Vietnam, including Ho Chi Minh city(HCM City), Danang and Halong, in the first four months of 2010. In February alone, Tan Hong – Du Ngoan Viet also received thousands of cruise tourists. These high numbers still do not include tourists received by OSC.
When asked about the big gap in statistics, a representative of the travel department under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) commented that, to date, all figures on the number of travelers, sources of travelers and purposes of traveling have been provided by the General Statistics Office (GSO). VNAT has been using these figures as estimates for development planning.
“We will check the figures and discuss this with GSO, the agency which specializes in calculating the number of tourists,” the representative added.
When asked why VNAT does not do the statistics so that it can have more accurate and reliable figures for development plans, the representative replied that theoretically travel firms must submit reports about the number of clients to VNAT every six months. Since companies have not strictly followed this regulation, it is impossible to provide accurate numbers.
As such, government agencies have been drawing up development plans based on inaccurate figures. Travel firms and government agencies always complain about the false figures.
At a tourism conference held in HCM City in March 2010, La Quoc Khanh, Deputy Director of the Culture, Sports and Tourism, lamented how the number of international tourists to HCM City released by VNAT was much lower than the real figure.
Also at the conference, Ngo Minh Duc, Director of Huong Giang (a booking agent for American Airlines), observed that government agencies do not provide reliable figures to travel firms.
Duc added that Huong Giang has been receiving very accurate figures from American Airlines, which helped them overcome difficulties in 2009.
According to Nguyen Van My, Director of Lua Viet travel firm, neighbouring Cambodia, a country which receives less tourists than Vietnam, has been doing very well with its statistics. Every six months, travel firms are provided a report with figures and analysis, which helps them accurately assess the market, whereas, Vietnam remains unable to do that.
Source: Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon