Upheaval in Thailand, opportunity for Vietnam’s tourism
Many Vietnamese travel agents are hoping that with the upheaval in Thailand international tourists will shift their plans to Vietnam.
The bomb attack at the Sari night club in Bali, Indonesia in October 2002 caused a lot of problems for the local tourism industry. Many international tourists decided to choose nearby destinations instead of going to Bali. It is reported that the flow of Japanese tourists into Vietnam began then and has continued ever since.
Experts have forecast that if it happens similarly as it did with Bali, the upheaval in Thailand will divert international tourists to Vietnam. They also said that even though the political situation in Thailand was comparably stable now, the overthrow and other problems happening across the country could lead to concerns by tourists about security. This means that the country will need a long time to get back tourists’ confidence in the country’s safety.
According to international travel agents who have offices in Vietnam, many of their customers who had booked tours to Thailand from their headquarters have asked to travel to other countries in the region. Among these destinations, Vietnam has emerged as a popular choice as it has proved itself to be a safe destination for tourists.
Nguyen Van Cuong, Head of the Development Research of Vietravel, said that it was obviously an opportunity for Vietnam. But how to make the most of the opportunity is a challenge for Vietnam’s tourism industry.
“Our promotion campaigns will be more effective if we emphasise the security of the country; advertise it as a safe destination to attract more international tourists,” Cuong added.
Many travel agents share the same idea: it is now time for Vietnam to promote its advertising work in different international markets, cooperating with international travel agents to undertake numerous marketing plans, working closely with each other in these campaigns.
However, they have also complained about the inactiveness of functional government bodies in helping domestic travel agents to grab opportunities of further promoting the development of the industry or those bodies lacking a broad plan to pull in more international travelers.
“We have not got any consultancy or support from any government agencies in the field of tourism,” said Nguyen Van My, Director of Lua Viet Travel Agent.
Indeed, as answered by Mr La Quoc Khanh, Vice Director of Ho Chi Minh City’s Tourism Department, the government seems to stand outside of the game, letting all travel agents find ways to take advantages of the situation themselves. “Travel agents should define the opportunities themselves. The department will not provide any direction in this case,” said Khanh.
Travel agents, however, are worried because of their limited capacities and the lack of a well-coordinated government body helping them to implement their advertising plans.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism has set ambitious goals for the next five years to attract a large number of tourists. Efforts should be made not only by travel agents themselves but also by appropriate government bodies.
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