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Local travel firms look to recovery in 2010

2009-12-12 (GMT + 7)

Vietnam’s inbound tourism sector will likely recover next year with the number of international visitor arrivals equal to or slightly higher than the 2008 level after an estimated double-digit fall this year, tour operators said.

Arrivals have bounced back in the past two months, while bookings for 2010 are also surging, prompting hopes among travel agencies about full recovery next year to between 4.2 million and 4.5 million foreign visitors.

That figure compares agreeably to the 2008 number of 4.25 million, and is a substantial rise against this year’s estimated number of 3.8 million international travelers. Local travel firms, now enjoying the bustling activity in the year-end high season and starting to receive new bookings for 2010, said they expect 2010 results to be equal to the 2008 performance. They, however, stressed that next year should still pose challenges.

Despite a strong increase in the past two months, tour operators said the results were still lower than a year ago.

“The number of inbound travelers catered to by our company in November was still 35% lower than that in the year-ago period. In total, the number of tourists via our company still fell 20% in 11 months, so we don’t expect a strong growth next year,” said Bui Viet Thuy Tien, managing director of Asian Trails Co., Ltd.
She added that “the growth for next year still remain a question mark.”

Ben Thanh Tourist, APEX Vietnam, Lien Bang Travel Link, and other travel companies share the point.
“The number of guests at our company was down 10% compared to the high season of 2008. We are receiving new bookings for next year but it’s not really good. We hope in 2010 the number of visitors can reach the same level of 2008,” said Nguyen Van Tran, general director of APEX - Vietnam Co., Ltd.

Tu Quy Thanh, director of Lien Bang Travel Link, estimated that the fall would be between 20% and 30% this year, adding that the travel industry needs more time to recover from bad impacts of the global financial crisis. “Feedback from (our) overseas partners shows that the upcoming situation would remain slightly difficult.
Our company and partners expect recovery in 2010,” he said.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism in a recent meeting in Hanoi was upbeat about tourism growth, citing the impressive growth rate of 70.2% in November against the previous month to 388,000 foreign travelers.
The authority expects that if the local and world economic situation does not encounter any sudden change, the number of international tourists to Vietnam will amount to between 4.2 and 4.25 million, or even 4.5 million.
However, a surge in arrivals last month was also attributed to the special event of Asian Indoor Games III, which helped brought in thousands of foreign officials, athletes, and fans to the country.

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