Hopes for second tourism stimulus
Update: May 10, 2010
Vietnam’s tourism industry has announced the second tourism stimulus campaign in 2010 called “Vietnam – Your Destination.” After the first campaign called “Impressive Vietnam” last year, authorities and enterprises hope for better results this year.

The tourism stimulus campaign 2010 has seven main areas, three of which are brand-new. They are a sales program in the “low” season called “Impressive Vietnam Grand Sale 2010,” aiming to attract more domestic and foreign guests, an on-point tourism promotion program for those visiting Vietnam with the motto “Friendly Vietnam welcomes you” and a countryside program for overseas Vietnamese.

Diversified stimulus

According to Nguyen Van Tuan, Director General of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) and general manager of the second campaign, the campaign is specifically aimed to increase the number of domestic tourists as well as those from Vietnam’s main markets. In particular, it focuses on high-spending tourists who stay many days in Vietnam in order to increase tourism revenues. In general, VNAT hopes to welcome 4.2 million international arrivals and 27-28 million domestic tourists, Tuan stated.

Among the three new programs, the tourism industry will concentrate more on the “Impressive Vietnam Grand Sale 2010” program in the low season to attract more customers. This kind of tourism through sales has recently developed strongly, says Vu The Binh, Director of Department of Travel under VNAT, adding that this is probably the main income generator for the tourism industry in many countries in the region.

To achieve good results, VNAT will cooperate with the Trade Promotion Bureau under the Ministry of Industry and Trade and Vietnam Airlines to carry out the program during August and September in big cities and major tourism centers across Vietnam like Hanoi, Danang and HCMC.

Many activities will run during the two months of the program such as organizing lucky draws for customers at supermarkets and shopping centers that register to join the sales program, opening the Impressive Vietnam Grand Sale Fair 2010 with discounts from 10-50% and much more. Tourists who participate in the sales programs will also get some additional benefits like a value-added tax refund, tourist privilege cards and shopping coupons. At any shopping place participating in the program, tourists can show their passports or ID cards to receive the benefits.

“Traveling combined with shopping is a trend that is now growing well,” Binh says. “The revenue from shopping by tourists is the main source of income for the tourism industry in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. These countries have been successful in organizing sales campaigns for the past few decades. Vietnam will follow the trend, but we will do it in different ways to adapt to Vietnam’s specific conditions.”

Response from enterprises

Businesses in the travel and hospitality sector hope that after the first campaign last year, the tourism authorities have more experience in organizing a tourism stimulus campaign so that the tourism industry and enterprises will benefit from the second campaign.

Tran Kim Long, General Director of Bong Sen Corporation, which manages a number of hotels, restaurants and travel agencies nationwide, told the Weekly that although he cannot tell exactly what effects the stimulation program brought to the company’s business last year, Bong Sen supports the campaign. One way or another, such a campaign has had positive effects on the company’s business results in particular and enterprises and Vietnam’s tourism in general.

Since late last year, affiliates of Bong Sen Corporation, including Palace Saigon Hotel, Bong Sen Saigon Hotel, Bong Sen Annex Hotel, Vietnam House Restaurant, Lemongrass, Brodard Bakery and Lotus Tours have already had plans for 2010. Many promotion programs to stimulate sales are the main parts of the plans.

Long says that these plans will be actively adjusted to adapt to market developments during the year as well as to correspond to VNAT’s stimulus campaign. “If VNAT organizes such campaigns continuously, this is really a good chance to create the conditions for enterprises in the tourism industry to boost their business,” he says. “I hope that this year’s campaign will have better effects on Vietnam’s tourism. Moreover, to make an effective stimulatus campaign, it is necessary to have good, comprehensive cooperation among the four main elements of the tourism industry, including tour operators, hotels, shopping centers and airlines.”

Phan Dinh Hue, Director of HCMC-based Viet Circle tour operator, agrees with Long: “We always welcome such campaigns, so this year we will also join with price discounts from 5-10% and other programs. More discounts will be offered if other suppliers also provide more discounts.”

Meanwhile, Saigontourist Travel Service Co. already plans to boost activities to popularize Vietnam’s tourism brand in international markets by participating in fairs and exhibitions. Besides introducing tour programs in Vietnam and seeking more partners, these events help people understand more about Vietnam’s tourism potential.

To support VNAT’s campaign, the flagship air carrier Vietnam Airlines has announced a 50% discount for domestic flights from March 1 till the end of this year. It will also work with VNAT to promote Vietnam’s tourism abroad and through mass media.

Long, Hue and other business people comment that this year’s campaign seems more professional. So, to get better results, they say that Vietnamese tourism should focus more on training human resources and building infrastructure to meet tourism demands. The infrastructure system has seen some improvements, but they are not comprehensive. Community participation in tourism is also very important.

If a really friendly image of the Vietnamese country and people combined with a better infrastructure system are created, Vietnam’s tourism will grow, Hue says. “In my opinion, VNAT must have a good long-term strategy as well as a detailed plan for every year,” Hue adds. “This work needs the participation of a group of experts, and then VNAT will design specific activities based on consultations. It is a fact that so far VNAT has made plans by itself, so they often do not meet the practical demands of tourists and travel agencies.”

Above all, these enterprises hope that with the second tourism stimulus campaign, companies in Vietnam’s tourism sector will start to actively cooperate with each other. VNAT’s role is only to provide direction.