According to Poll Stoll, General Director of Celadon International in HCM City, some 500 million tourists in the world are “allocentric” (i.e., ones who do not care much about the price). They are well educated, like traveling to new places and interested in the culture and peoples of their destination countries. One third, an estimated 160 million tourists, enjoy traveling to Asia.
Tourists lured elsewhere
While countries like Thailand can attract 15 million people, Malaysia 22 million, Indonesia 6.3 million and China 126 million, Vietnam attract just four million tourists. These travelers have a total of $180 billion, or $1,430 per traveler, to spend. Vietnam collects only $3.7 billion, or $974 per traveler.
According to Gael de la Porte du Thei, Chair of French Interface Tourism, French people come to Vietnam, travel from north to south, return to France and then say they have “done” Vietnam. Estimates reveal that 85 percent of French tourists do not return a second time.
Meanwhile, Thailand attracts 400,000 French tourists, double that of Vietnam. One third of the 400,000 tourists say they have come to Thailand for the first time, the other 1/3 for the second time and 1/3 say they have been to Thailand many times.
The figures demonstrate that Vietnam’s tourism campaigns are not effective.
Analysts suggest that Vietnam should not only talk about Danang, Phu Quoc and Nha Trang, but the country should introduce the rest of the nation that boasts 3,000 kilometres of coastline and many other beautiful landscapes and resorts.
Mr Gael de la Porte du Thei stressed that although tourism promotions are very costly, an efficient promotion can bring six or ten dong for every dong of investment.
He stressed that Vietnam needs to improve visa granting procedures at border gates and offer refreshers for enterprises and press agencies to promote tourism effectively.
At the starting point
La Quoc Khanh, Deputy Director of the HCM City Department of Tourism described Vietnam’s tourism as “at the starting point.”
Khanh observed that, 10 years ago, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia were at the same point with Vietnam in promoting tourism. While the other countries have made huge strides in attracting travelers, Vietnam has not take any significant steps.
Travel firms say they need support from other agencies to promote tourism, but they have not made substantive efforts to obtain it. Air carriers have 26 offices in countries worldwide, while travel firms have not thought of setting information inquiry kiosks at their offices to promote tourism.
Hanoitourist Director Luu Duc Ke explained that when he attended tourism trade fairs abroad, he saw tourist companies gathered in the national booths. In contrast, Vietnamese travel firms did not have a national booth and they all had to pay money to attend.
Former Deputy Head of VNAT Nguyen Phu Duc pointed out the disorder in management and cooperation to carry out tourism promotion programs. Duc argued that it is necessary to assign one body to manage promotion work.
Presently Vietnam has three agencies involved in promoting tourism, the International Cooperation Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Travel Department and Market Department under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).