Many inbound tour operators have fallen into difficulty over
sliding sales, so they have called for a nationwide demand stimulus program
similar to the one done in 2009.
According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT),
international tourist arrivals in Vietnam this month are down 25.8% from the
previous month to 456,750 and 4.4% less than from the same period last year.
In the period between April and September, monthly international arrivals
normally decline month-on-month given the low season but rarely has the sector
seen a year-on-year slip in foreign tourists to the country. Therefore, the
year-on-year drop in foreign arrivals this month indicates a difficult period
for tourism business.
“This year will be generally tough with a dip in the number of tourists. There
are fewer customers at international tourism fairs than last year,” said Vo Anh
Tai, director of Saigontourist Travel Service Co.
This is evident in the major tourism fairs in major markets such as Europe and
China which Saigontourist has attended.
Similarly, other travel firms in HCMC said, difficulties faced by the inbound
tourism segment are clearly reflected by the incoming of smaller groups of
tourists and that foreign guests often wait for promotional prices until the
Many said foreign partners wanted lower prices to compete with others as
international tourists spent less in times of hardship.
“In recent times, French, Australian and Russian visitors to Vietnam have
dropped substantially due to unattractive prices. We cannot compete with
neighboring countries in terms of price. Vietnamese tourists opt for overseas
travel to benefit from low prices and foreign tourists also care much about
prices at this difficult time,” said Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, head of PR and
communications of Fiditourist.
Tai of Saigontourist warned that if travel agencies do not join hands to develop
joint price policies or promotional programs, international tourists will edge
down further. A stimulus program for domestic tours has been launched but no
moves have been taken to prop up the inbound segment.
“Travel firms separately cooperate with their partners to offer discounts and
this way cannot help to improve their competitiveness. Regional countries such
as Singapore and Thailand have launched many big programs to attract tourists,
and if Vietnam cannot do more, tourists will switch to other more attractive
destinations,” he said.
International arrivals in Vietnam in the year’s first five months are estimated
at nearly three million, up 17.5% from the same period last year. The target for
this year is 6.5 million international visitor arrivals, which industry players
said is modest compared to other regional countries.