Vietnam tourism industry may lose home game
Vietnam’s WTO accession is a natural form of effective marketing for the nation’s tourism industry. However, local travel companies will have to compete with strong international rivals.
According to representatives of some reputed travel companies in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has caused news about and images of Vietnam as a destination to appear on lots of foreign television channels and in lots of foreign newspapers.
“In the near future, Vietnam local travel firms will have access to many markets. Foreign visitors may take initiative in going to Vietnam and we will not have to spend much to seek new sources of travelers without knowing the results,” said Tran Tuong Huy, Marketing Manager of Fiditour.
Director of the Saigontourist Vo Anh Tai shared the same viewpoint, saying that international friends would have a new oulook on Vietnam through discovering the country’s world natural heritage sites, Vietnam natural landscapes, Vietnam unique culture, economic and politic stability, and the hospitality of Vietnamese people, not only their heroicness in fighting aggressors.
Mr Ky added that accession to the WTO and commitments to open nearly all fields of economics would also force Vietnam to adjust and perfect its legal system: When the time required to establish businesses and fulfill administrative formalities was shortened, many more investors would be attracted to the tourism sector.
The risk to lose at home
They are happy to have opportunities to cooperate with big partners and expand markets, but domestic travel companies are also worried about the fierce competition in the near future.
Fiditour’s Marketing Manager Tran Tuong Huy said that sooner or later foreign companies would have representatives in Vietnam and organise tours themselves for foreigners in Vietnam. With their disadvantages in language, services and tour monitoring skills, Vietnamese travel firms could easily lose this source of visitors.
Moreover, foreign travel companies can also attract Vietnamese visitors. “They are very professional so they can diminish emerging expenses to lower tour prices. We don’t exclude the possibility that they will attract even local travelers once they are familiar with the Vietnamese market,” Mr Huy said.
Vietravel General Director Nguyen Quoc Ky warned that Vietnamese travel firms may lose their qualified staff if they didn’t implement clear policies.
He said that most Vietnamese travel companies have not paid due attention to learning local laws and related international rules and that this would be a weakness of local firms when they operated under the legal framework of the WTO.
“Playing in a big playground without knowledge about the rules of the game may bring about risks,” he emphasised.
Representatives of travel firms also accepted that their human resources were mainly trained locally and didn’t meet the standards of cooperation and standardisation of big travel groups.
Vietnam Making plans for the new period
Local travel firms agreed that to take advantage of WTO membership and limit risks in competition, local firms must seek to keep their domestic market shares and be ready to cooperate with big groups.
Saigontourist Director Vo Anh Tai revealed that his company had worked out a development policy in 2003 for when Vietnam joined the WTO that highlighted investment in developing and protecting brands.
“Choosing partners is likely choosing friends. The brand is the commitment of product quality, which proves the proper manner in business of each enterprise. When foreign companies come to Vietnam, they will firstly meet with companies owning big brands to evaluate the general market,” he said.
Saigontourist has participated in many overseas tourism fairs to survey and seek partners and effective tour monitoring technology. The company is determined to focus on high and medium-grade customers because these kinds of travelers have brought high revenue for Saigontourist since 2005.
Vietravel aims to expand its distribution network by opening many branches in regional countries. It has just opened a representative office in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and is about to inaugurate others in Singapore and Bangkok, Thailand.
For Fiditour, it will concentrate on potential markets such as Russia, Egypt, Arab, South Africa, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands once barriers on visas, financial conditions and transport are lighter.