Vietnam one of Japanese’ 20 favourite destinations
The Japanese love beautiful landscapes, world heritage sites, peacefulness, good food and drink, and fine arts, that is why they like coming to Vietnam, said Nobu Taka Ishikure, Chairman of Japan’s Branch of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).
Understanding travellers the key of success
Coming from Japan, Mr Ishikure well understands the characteristics and hobbies of Japanese travellers. He said that the Japanese are very sensitive to ‘negative’ events, like political instability and accidents. The events of September 11, 2001 in the US or the Iraq war mobilised by the US in 2003 have led to a sharp decrease in outbound Japanese tourists. The Japanese Government always advises its citizens not to travel to unstable regions, and Japanese people seem to follow this advice.
The boom in Japanese travellers to Vietnam has proved the attractiveness of the market in the eyes of Japanese people. Mr Ishikure said that the Japanese love Vietnam’s beautiful landscapes, its world heritage sites, its peacefulness, good food and its original fine arts. That explains why Vietnam has become one of the Japanese’ 20 favourite destinations. Halong Bay, the Ancient Capital of Hue, Hoi An Old Town and the My Son ruins are the best-known places for the Japanese.
Nevertheless, Japanese travellers do not return to Vietnam for a second or third time. The problem lies in the fact that the travellers lack information, and are not satisfied with their shopping due to the lack of product diversity. In addition, the Japanese do not feel satisfied, as they do not trust Vietnam’s health care system. The fact that Vietnam’s infrastructure remains poor and Vietnam’s tourism does not target well-off travellers has also been cited as main reasons for the refusal of the Japanese to return to Vietnam.
Japan has been for a long time listed among the five countries and territories that have the biggest number of travellers to Vietnam. (The five are China, the US, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Taiwan). However, the number of Japanese travellers to Vietnam proves to be very small in comparison with the total number of outbound tourists (317,000 out of 17.5mil in 2005)
In order to compete with the regional developed tourism markets like Thailand, China or Cambodia, and encourage the Japanese to return to Vietnam for a second and third time, Mr Ishikure said, Vietnam needs popularise its image in the Japanese mass media.
Understanding more about the operation of Japanese travel firms would be a big advantage for Vietnamese travel firms. In addition, firms should learn about the 15 holidays when the Japanese do not like travelling, or the days when the Japanese prefer staying at home to going abroad, like Buddha’s birthday in mid August, the last week of the year or the time just before elections.
“The most important thing is that Vietnamese travel firms should better understand clients’ tastes and hobbies in order to take care of them,” Mr Ishikure said.
How to attract travellers to Vietnam?
Aviation has long been considered one of the most effective ways to advertise Vietnam’s image in the world. Trinh Hong Quang, Head of the Marketing Section under the Vietnam Airlines Corporation said that the air carrier has opened 27 international flight points, has 10,000 agents worldwide, and 27 representative offices.
With 39 aircraft currently and 62 aircraft by 2010, Vietnam Airlines is planning to open more new routes to European countries, the US, and the expanded Sub-Mekong region. The air carrier will also put into operation routes from Da Nang Airport in the central region of Vietnam to East Asian countries.
Mr Quang said that in the near future, Vietnam Airlines would seek cooperation with the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) and travel firms to popularise Vietnam’s image more effectively and at a reasonable cost.
“4 million foreign travellers to Vietnam this year is within reach,” Deputy Head of VNAT and Chairman of the Vietnam Branch of PATA Vu Tuan Canh said. Mr Canh said that it took Vietnam eight years to raise the number of travellers to Vietnam from 100,000 to 1mil (1986-1994), six years to raise from 1mil to 2mil, five years to raise from 2mil to 3mil. VNAT hopes that the time needed to raise the number of tourists from 3mil to 4mil will be shortened to one year.