Hanoi tourism: all trite, no spark
When programming new tours for visitors, Vietnamese travel agents avoid Hanoi as a destination, claiming tourism options in the city are dull.
Mr Nguyen Tien Dat, Sale Manager of Transviet Company said that when most tourists arrive in Hanoi, they have very few options in terms of city tours. After just a couple of days, with the same stock standard tours, travel agents must take them to other provinces like Ninh Binh or Ha Long, as Hanoi’s tourism products lack any shine.
Ms Thu Ly, an Open Tour guide, complained that every day she has to take tourists to visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, or Bat Trang porcelain and Van Phuc silk villages. These, she says, are the only tours available. Over the last few years Hanoi has had only one new site added that could interest foreign tourists; the Museum of Ethnology.
As tour programmes are too monotonous, many travel agents have decided to skip Hanoi entirely, taking tourists directly to Da Nang, Hoi An, Nha Trang or Ho Chi Minh City.
“I have come here twice now. This time I thought that travel agents offered me something different, but the tours available are exactly the same as the ones I took last time. Visiting the Old Quarter by cyclo and blah, blah, blah,” said Spencer Han, a Singaporean tourist.
Spencer decided to head to Sa Pa instead of staying in Hanoi. He went on to complain that hotel rooms in the city are just as expensive as those in Singapore, and more expensive than in Malaysia. Also, Hanoi’s hotels don’t even offer any promotional programmes during the off season.
Statistics from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) show that 3.5 million international tourists came to Vietnam in 2005. Ho Chi Minh City attracted two million. Hanoi ranked second with 1.1 million tourists visiting the City, and Quang Ninh came in third.
However, analysts say it is only because Hanoi has Noi Bai, an international airport, that it gets the number of travellers it does. Otherwise, data is not convincing that the capital city is a more attractive destination than any other cities or provinces in the country.
Shortage of accommodation has contributed to the skyrocketing of hotel room prices, which then affects the city’s competitiveness in attracting tourists.
According to the Hanoi Tourism Department (HTD), Hanoi currently has 420 hotels with12,500 rooms meeting hospitality industry standards. Vietnam has set a target of attracting five million foreign tourists every year; therefore the number of visitors to Hanoi needs to increase correspondingly. When it does, Hanoi will be short by 2,000 hotel rooms.
Ms Cao Ngoc Lan, HTD Vice Director, said investment in building more hotels or upgrading existing hotels is sluggish, as there is no policy to encourage investors and entrepreneurs to do so.
Lan admitted that the same old monotonous tourism products and services offered in the city have led to significant shortening of time spent in Hanoi by visitors. The official also recognised that if the local government of Hanoi wants to pull more tourists, it needs to diversify its services as well as to offer more options.
This would not only help to attract more visitors, but would also keep them here longer which means that local businesses would directly benefit.
Hanoi authorities recently initiated a handful of new projects to advertise its image in other countries and to invite international travel agents to conduct surveys in the city to operate new tours.
In August a group of officials will head for Europe and America preceding numerous marketing campaigns. How this will help is anyone’s guess. In addition, the city has agreed to sponsor two groups of Taiwanese and American journalists to come to Hanoi with the view to introducing Hanoi in other countries.
Complaints generally run that Hanoi’s cultural and art shows are trite and insipid. For years the only option was the water puppet show. Experts advise that HTD should take the initiative in devising more tours or organising more cultural and art festivals which are typically Hanoian.
While government bodies are still perplexed over introducing new tours, some local travel agents have taken it upon themselves to launch new tours for tourists. Cooking tours and biking tours have gone down well as they are designed to show them how to prepare local foods and help them to discover the reality of life in Hanoi.
Nevertheless, the local government must work hard if they want to attract more visitors or keep them staying longer in the city. The only way is to offer more tours and to diversify hospitality services and roducts.
Hanoi tourism: all trite, no spark (21/07/06)
Phu Quoc Island moves upmarket with Grand Mercure resort (20/07/06)
Con Dao to be combined world heritage? (13/07/06)
Shadows cover a garden of yesterday (12/07/06)
Victoria's Mekong discovery package (12/07/06)
US$86mil resort project licensed in Da Nang (11/07/06)
Da Nang beach fouled by waste water (11/07/06)
Robinson tour to Con Dao Island (04/07/06)
UK tour operators visit Vietnam (03/07/06)
Ha Tay expects to build second golf course (03/07/06)
Promotions for vacations at the sea (20/06/06)
The grandeur of Ha Giang – a delight to the eyes (13/06/06)
World Heritage site launches tourism month (05/06/06)
New rules make Hoi An more tourist-friendly (05/06/06)
Vinacapital pens deal on Da Nang tourist complex project (02/06/06)
Da Nang: cruise ships bring 3,000 in May (02/06/06)
Hue Festival to feature 100-neck shirt (26/05/06)
Foreign art troupes to perform at Hue Festival 2006 (21/05/06)
Bai Tu Long National Park restores biological diversity (21/05/06)
Ha Long tourism: want for improvement (17/05/06)