For the last many years, Vietnam always appears as one of the destination points in the itineraries of cruise trips that tour the Asia Pacific region. However, the number of foreign cruiser travelers to Vietnam tour remains modest, just accounting for one percent of the total foreign tourists to Vietnam.
Tin tuc has cited its sources as saying that since the beginning of the year, Vietnam has received only 25,000 foreign cruise travelers, which represents the 20 percent decrease in comparison with the same period of the last year.
Cruises only make few-day stays in Vietnam
Explaining the decreases in the number of cruise tourists to Vietnam, Vu Duy Vu, Deputy Director of Saigontourist, said that recently, the cruises to Vietnam not only stay at one port, but at two or three ports, and they tend to dock at many ports in Vietnam. A lot of cruises stay in Vietnam overnight, but most of the cruises do not: they come in the morning and leave in the afternoon.
Vietnam is really a good destination for tourists with its beautiful landscapes and wonderful beaches. However, the poor tourism services explain why Vietnam still cannot attract cruise tourists.
At present, only 10 Vietnamese travel firms receive cruise tourists. In 1990s, ship routing (periodic cruise trips) was once planned in Vietnam which then lasts several years. At that time, the number of cruise tourists to Vietnam once accounted for up to 10 percent of the total travelers to Vietnam.
However, due to many reasons, including the difficulties faced by the partners, the activities of receiving periodic cruises have halted. However, Saigontourist said it is planning to resume the plan.
Nguyen Thanh Binh, representative from Tan Hong Travel Firm, said that as for foreign cruise tourists, Vietnam remains an unfamiliar destination; therefore, they want to go to Vietnam to discover the interesting things in the country. However, the problem is that Vietnam, though having attractive destinations, still cannot offer good services due to the poor infrastructure conditions.
For example, foreign cruse tourists dock the Halong Bay and then leave for Hanoi during the same days. It takes them four hours to go to Hanoi and four other hours to return to Halong. This means that they only have two or three hours to visit Hanoi. Since tourists do not have many choices for means of transport, they still have to travel by land, and have no other alternatives in case troubles occur with the road traffic.
Vietnam’s services unprofessional
The first thing that cruise tourists can easily realise when they arrive in Vietnam is that the ports are all cargo ports, not tourism ports. This means that tourists may feel inconvenient when docking cargo ports, including the poor environment conditions. Especially, many tourists have expressed their dissatisfaction when they have to receive a lot of vendors who try to persuade them to buy souvenirs.
Barbara Parson, a Canadian tourism said that when his cruise docked at the Halong bay and the tourists were planning to leave for smaller boats, they could see the small boats of local residents, who came to ask the tourists to buy souvenirs. If tourists refused to purchase the products, the local residents then asked for money.
Meanwhile, the foreign tourists really did not want to buy the products sold by the people, because they were advised not to buy the products due to the low quality.
Binh from Tan Hong travel firm said that Vietnam does not have many products to sell to tourists. Foreigners like fine art hand-made products in Vietnam, but they do not know where to find high quality products. In general, vendors only sell low quality products. Meanwhile, tourists cannot find vendors to pay back the products they purchase.
After every trip, cruises always ask tourists to give comments about the destinations. And Vietnam has been marked as the new destination which deserves “dropping in”.