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Vietnam revises down tourism target

2009-10-27 (GMT + 7)

Vietnam’s tourism authority has decided to reduce the target of international arrivals this year to four million from the previous target of 4.5 million after admitting to a sharp decline in the inbound sector in the year to date, said the top tourism official.

Nguyen Van Tuan, head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, told the Daily on October 20 that international arrivals in the first nine months fell 16% year-on-year to nearly 2.8 million foreign visitors only. Failure in realizing the old target this year will also have an adverse impact on the target for next year, Tuan said.

The tourism agency expects that international visitors to Vietnam next year will be around 4.5 to 5.0 million instead of the old target of 5.0 to 5.5 million.

Of the total 2.8 million foreign arrivals in the nine months, nearly 2.3 million people arrived by air, down 10.6%, while there were around 57,700 cruise passengers, down 52.5%, and 447,000 overland travelers, down 30.2%.

"The decline in foreign arrivals is bringing a bad impact to the country’s tourism revenue. However, we have not yet had the final shortfall," he toId the Daily.

Tuan said that while the result of the inbound sector was not good, the domestic sector was still faring well in the nine months. The total number of domestic tourists is expected at 25 million this year, or a strong increase of five million over 2008, Tuan said, adding he hoped the surge in this segment would partially cover the loss in the entire industry.

Last year the country reported total tourism revenue of VND60 trillion, or some US$3.6 billion, with the inbound sector contributing a bigger part to the total.

The world’s economic downturn since last year and the ongoing influenza H1N1 are key reasons behind Vietnam’s poor tourism performance. The number of international tourists to Vietnam has been falling down month on month since the year’s beginning, except for August.

Some tour operators in HCMC especially those receiving tourists from long-haul destinations such as Europe and the U.S. have said that the market is unlikely to recover strongly in this high season.

"Naturally, bookings for this season are higher than in the summer season, but this year the number is still lower than in the same period of 2008," said Bui Viet Thuy Tien, managing director of Asian Trails Co., Ltd.

In related news, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) on October 7 in its press release showed that the number of international visitors to the Asia Pacific region in July fell by 6% year-on-year.

International arrivals to Southeast Asia were down by less than 3%, with negative results reported from Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

"These latest results confirm that the prevailing depressed market conditions are still having an impact on international travel flows and, while the global economy appears to be showing signs of renewed activity in some areas, it is doing so at a sluggish pace," said John Koldowski, director of PATA’s Strategic Intelligence Centre said in the press release.

He added that "the reality is that there is no quick fix for the travel and tourism industry. We are still fighting to get back to ground zero."

Source: VietNamNet/SGT

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