Bonanza for tourism industry
Update: Feb 20, 2013
This year's nine-day Lunar New Year holiday has helped drive large numbers of local and foreign visitors to tourist destinations across the country, raising hopes of a successful year for the tourism industry.

Big profitsVietravel tourism company has served nearly 35,000 visitors, rising 25 percent from last year's Tet holiday figure. The first two days of the Lunar New Year (February 10-11) saw a record high of more than 7,000 arrivals.

Ta Thi Tu Uyen, a Vietravel official, said the company had organised more than 300 inbound and outbound tours before the Tet holiday, catering to various tastes.

Tours of the northern, central and southern regions were very popular, especially those of cultural and historical relic sites in Hanoi, North-western provinces, Danang, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Da Lat, Ho Chi Minh City, and South-western provinces, said Uyen.

Saigontourist, the country's leading tour operator, kick-started the long holiday with a swathe of impressive tours, attracting over 68,000 local and foreign visitors.

It served more than 46,000 foreign holiday-makers, up 43 percent from a year ago, ran 255 inbound tours, up 30 percent, and held 196 outbound tours, up 50 percent.

The company deployed all its available buses on route shuttling between hundreds of scheduled local and overseas destinations.

Major tourist destinations have attracted a high influx of visitors these days. The Quang Ninh provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism reported that as many as 350,000 people have visited the World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay over the past nine days, a year-on-year increase of 17 percent.

The former imperial city of Hue attracted nearly 32,000 visitors during the first three days of the Lunar New Year, 8,000 of whom were foreigners from France, the US and Australia.

The central city of Danang's promotional successes have created expectations of welcoming more than 143,000 local and foreign visitors, up 10.4 percent.

Tet for foreigners
The traditional Tet holiday's culture and customs are becoming intangible assets for the tourism industry. Increasing numbers of foreigners are choosing Vietnam as their long-term holiday destination. Tourist resorts, trading centres and tour operations are capitalising the golden opportunity by providing traditional Tet welcoming ceremonies to attract visitors.

Vietravel representative Nguyen Minh Man said the Tet tours offer foreign visitors the chance to shop, visit and share traditional Tet dishes with Vietnamese families, assemble Banh Chung (square cake made from sticky rice, green beans and pork) and observe ancestor worship.

Saigontourist's Foreigners Enjoy Vietnamese Tet programme, started since 2003, has helped promote Vietnam's traditional cultural values during the Tet holiday. Its two varieties of 2013 Tet tours Tet in the Mekong Delta and Tet with Saigonese, saw a 40-percent rise in the number of foreign tourists participating in.

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism expects that international arrivals in the city are likely to increase 8 percent during this year's Tet holiday.

Major tour operators enjoying the boon in potential customer numbers include JTB (up 30 percent, most from Japan), and Saigontourist (up 14 percent from France and Germany).

Other operators include Vietravel, Ben Thanh, Fiditour, Hoa Binh, Vietnam, and Apex, have seen average increases of between 5 and 10 percent. Revenue is predicted to rise by 7 percent.

Quality services
Tour operators make the most of the long Tet holiday to bolster profits and promote the country's international profile. Providing the best possible services is essential to attracting more holiday-makers.

This year's Vietravel guides have been sent to tourist hotspots in northern and central regions, and overseas destinations in Thailand Cambodia, Singapore and Malaysia. The guides have completed training courses to ensure safety and maximise visitor convenience.

Under the Vietravel programme For a Clean Tourism Environment, all customers on its inbound and outbound tours are provided with biodegradable nylon bags to encourage maintaining a clean and green environment.

The large numbers of Tet holiday-makers have laid the foundations for the tourism industry's lucrative 2013.