Travel companies wait for overall solutions to stimulate tourism
In the unpredictable situation of the world, Vietnam’s tourism needs to have overall solutions to help this potential smoke-free industry take off in 2024.
The statistics published by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism showed that, in 2023, international visitors to Vietnam reached 12.6 million, 3.4 times higher than in 2022 and far exceeding the initial target of 8 million visitors, achieving the adjusted goal of 12.5-13 million visitors.
Moving into 2024, the tourism industry aims to welcome 17-18 million international visitors to Vietnam and serve 110 million domestic tourists, with total tourism revenue reaching around VND840 trillion.
According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, the global tourism industry still faces many difficulties and challenges. The world situation continues to be unpredictable, with slow economic growth, increasing inflation, and conflicts in regions showing no signs of easing.
In the above situation, it is necessary to review pending issues of the industry to build solutions to create a breakthrough for the potential industry.
According to reflection of travel agencies, the domestic tourism market recovered in 2023, especially the outstanding increase of 230 per cent from Indian travellers and 176 per cent from Cambodia travellers, however, there are some pending issues which need to be improved. For example, the majority of tourists come from traditional markets, such as China, South Korea and Japan.
Compared to the nearly 90 per cent recovery rate of global tourism as announced by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the number achieved by Vietnam is still quite modest. Furthermore, countries in the region such as Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore recovered faster while Vietnam opened up earlier.
“Most travellers coming from traditional markets of Vietnamese tourism usually stay for a short time and do not spend much money on services. In addition, the recovery of Chinese tourists is still at a modest level, which equals only 30 per cent compared to the number in 2019. Meanwhile, high-spending tourists from the US and some European countries still only account for a very low proportion,” Pham Ha, founder of LuxGroup, a luxury travel and tourism company and cruise operator.
Travel agencies state that the recovery of tourists partly comes from the more open visa policies of Vietnam. Meanwhile, the role of advertising and promotion activities in fostering the recovery of the tourism market is quite faint. Furthermore, Vietnam still lacks ambitious goals and effective strategies to create a breakthrough for tourism.
Meanwhile, other countries set the ambitious target for the new year from the third quarter or the fourth quarter of 2023. Thailand is an example, it set a goal of welcoming 40 million international visitors in 2024.
Positioning for acceleration
Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung instructed the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism to implement key programmes and initiatives in the industry, develop a green tourism action plan, implement the action plan of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and encourage the development of new tourism products. The industry is also developing themed tourism marketing campaigns, building a national tourism database system, and implementing promotional and advertising tasks domestically and internationally.
However, according to Pham Ha, before designing new tourism products, the Vietnamese tourism industry needs to identify its strengths, position the national brand, and identify the targeted customers namely normal travellers or high-spending customers in collaboration with sustainable development direction. By the way, we can build action plans to attract the right target travellers.
The travel agencies affirm that Vietnamese tourism still lacks a conductor who can help to lead the positioning of the national tourism brand and synthesise its strengths between the state and businesses. At present, localities and businesses are struggling to “do their own thing”, depending on circumstances and forces. Businesses are still self-reliant, finding their own path even though what they do is greatly contributing to the image, brand and development of the national economy.
“The current budget for advertising and promotion is still too small compared to other countries in the region. Promotion programmes need more attractive content and focus on customers’ emotions.
In addition, placing representative offices in target markets is also a factor to consider to more understand the indigenous people. To become a “tourism powerhouse”, Vietnam needs to increase promotional activities and practical actions to make tourism become a key economic sector,” he said.
“Over the past year, although the market still had many difficulties, LuxGroup has recovered over 90 per cent and is entering the new year with ambitious goals. To get these positive results, we have continuously innovated in products to bring great experiences to customers, in advertising and promotion methods.
Furthermore, we understand that strong development must be attached to sustainability. From the first days, we have pursued sustainable tourism for the benefit of not only LuxGroup but also the entire ecosystem including the environment and society,” Ha said.