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Finishing a bad year, travel agencies set modest goals for 2010

2009-12-11 (GMT + 7)

More foreign tourists are seen on Vietnam’s streets now, for it’s the height of the inbound tourism season.  However, total arrivals are still far below 2008, reports Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon.

“We’re down 35 percent in comparison with November 2008, says Bui Viet Thuy Tien, Managing Director of Asian Trails Co Ltd., and down 11 percent year over year.  Ben Thanh Tourist, APEX Vietnam and Lien Bang Travel Link report the same woeful news.

At a workshop on tourism development strategy up to 2020 held in Hanoi on November 27, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism gave the data a positive spin.  It announced that 388,000 foreign tourists arrived in November, 70 percent more than in October.

The tourism administration predicted that, barring unforeseen upheaval, foreign tourist arrivals will bounce back to about 4.25 million in 2010, ten percent more than this year and equal to tourist arrivals in 2008.

Some listeners pointed out that the November arrivals statistic is not so impressive – it was pumped up by a one time event, the Asian Indoor Games, which attracted thousands of athletes, officials and fans to Vietnam.

“Our projected guests this winter are ten percent below last year’s,” said Nguyen Van Tran, General Director of APEX.  “We have begun getting orders for 2010, but they aren’t satisfactory.  At best, we’ll just obtain the same number of clients as  in 2008.”

Tu Quy Thanh, Director of Lien Bang Travel Link, said that the tourism industry will need some time to recover from the economic crisis.  “Our foreign partners are not too optimistic even though the number of tourists has begun increasing. Like us, they only hope to serve the same number of tourists as in the years before the crisis,” he said

Travel firms say that though the market has just begun recovering, some hotels are planning to raise hotel room rates already.  Nguyen Minh Quyen, a senior executive of Ben Thanh Tourist, thinks that hotels will return charges nearly to 2008 levels.  “Some high grade hotels have announced that the room rate in 2010 will be 90 percent of the May 2008 rate.  That will make it difficult for travel firms to attract clients,” Quyen said gloomily.

Tran of APEX said that there are rumors of imminent increases in rack rates at the upscale hotels, but no official notice has been given.

Source: VietNamNet/TBKTSG

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