Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Vietnam still fumbling with designing low cost tours

Thailand has surprised the world as just ten days after the chaos, they are ready with a new program to lure travelers back to the country. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, low cost tourism products are expected to be launched by January at the earliest.


Looking at Thailand


Foreign travelers in HCM City
With the slogan “Thailand sorry,” as well as lower tour fees and hotel room rates, Thailand has become more prominent than ever in a campaign to attract travelers back to the country after the chaos. Tourists have seemed to forget the political uncertainties that occurred only several days ago in the country.


The free flights on international routes provided by Air Asia, departing from Bangkok to Hanoi and HCM CityCambodiaMyanmar,MalaysiaSingapore and China are expected to bring several hundred thousand tourists to Thailand, with these flights occurring between January 6 and March 31, 2009.


Travelers have been promised surprisingly low hotel room rates with discounts of up to 50-80% in Phuket or Pattaya.


Many Vietnamese travelers have booked air tickets online to travel to Thailand. According to Bui Duc Hanh, Chief Representative of Air Asia in Hanoi, Vietnamese travelers like booking tickets on weekends or holidays. Travelers only have to pay the airport tax, insurance premium and administrative fees.


‘Jealous’ of Thailand, Vu The Binh, Director of the Travel Departmentm, under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), admitted that Vietnam is inferior to Thailand in the area of professionalism. With their professionalism, Thailand has not been on the defense with the political crisis, as it has discovered initiatives to persuade tourists back to the country.


Meanwhile, according to La Quoc Khanh, Deputy Director of the HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and TourismVietnam has not been professional in promoting tourism, as Vietnamese companies cannot cooperate with each other for the development of the tourism industry.


… to seek solutions for Vietnam


Many directors and officials of VNAT were present in HCM City late last week to meet 60 travel firms and hotels to discuss plans to lure more travelers to Vietnam. Two similar meetings will take place in Hanoiand the central city of Da Nang this week.


Nguyen Manh Cuong, Deputy General Director of the VNAT, affirmed that tourism products must be ready by December 30 at the latest.


Khanh said that a plan to cut tour fees has been designed, and is called a “6 in 1” program. The taskforces for key markets have been set up and they will sit together to discuss the measures necessary to cut tour fees and design mechanisms for controlling the implementation of commitments.


Once tourism products with reasonable prices are ready, travel firms will register to VNAT and the local department of culture, sports and tourism. Afterwards, products will be introduced and advertised to foreign partners.


Khanh said that in the meantime, HCM City’s tourism promotion will focus on JapanAustralia andMalaysia, while it will still need support from VNAT to promote tourism in France, East Europe andChina.


Japan will be the first target in the tourism promotion campaign with roadshows and press conferences to be held when the 30% decreases in tour fees will be announced.


HCM City is hurriedly selecting “Saigon, 100 most interesting things,” which includes the 10 most attractive sightseeing points, the 10 most delicious dishes, 10 original markets and the 10 best hotels to be introduced in the campaign.


Binh, from VNAT, said that the tourism products need to be designed and available soon so that VNAT can advertise the products directly to 500 foreign travel firms and the foreign press in January 2009 at ATF 2009.