Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vietnam's tourism heading down

Tourism growth in downtrend
17:10' 16/09/2008 (GMT+7)

Foreign tourists in Vietnam
VietNamNet Bridge – Global economic regression has clearly affected the Vietnamese tourism industry. In the first five months of the year, the number of international visitors coming to Vietnam rose by 16.6%; the figure for June, July and August was lower by 15% year on year.


Infrastructure makes no progress


Another worry for the tourism industry is the reduction of visitors from big and wealthy markets and segments: cruise tourists down by 19%, Japanese visitors 4.2%, South Korean 6.3%, American, British and Canadian over 3%, and Chinese 8.3%.


The trend in Vietnam is the general trend in Asia.


When the US dollar devalued recently, many European tourists chose the US instead of Asia. The prices at Asian restaurants were also more experience, influencing the attractiveness of Asia.


The Vietnamese tourism industry hopes that the number of foreign visitors coming to Vietnam will increase in the last months of 2008 to compensate for the reduction in the past three months.


However, Vietnam’s attractiveness also suffers as the prices of tours to neighbouring countries like ThailandMalaysia and Singapore have risen 5-10% in the last year while tours to Vietnam have risen 15-30%, mainly due to the increases of room rates and air fares.


Vietnam’s aviation and hotel industries have developed very slowly in recent years so shortages of hotel rooms always happens in the tourism season while there are few choices for air routes and prices.


Speaking to TTG Asia, a travel newspaper, Richard Brouwer, Managing Director of the Diethlem Travel Group of Switzerland, forecast that the situation will get better for the tourism sector of Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries in October-December 2008, or the tourism season. If during this time Vietnam has more local flights, Diethlem will organise more tours to Vietnam.


Yet, as Vietnamese airlines lack aircrafts and the aviation industry is facing a lot of difficulties, it will be difficult for local airlines to open new air routes and increase numbers of flights. Jetstar Pacific currently has had to temporarily suspend the HCM City-Hue, HCM City-Nha Trang air routes. Many travel agents have had to stop offering tours to Con Dao and Phu Quoc islands since they can’t reserve tickets to these destinations.


At least in the next two years, there will be no big changes in the number of hotel rooms so this will be still the disadvantage of the tourism sector.


HCM City plans to have an additional 950 luxurious rooms at the end of 2009 but only Kumho,