Economic woes fail to dampen tourism

April 18, 2013 | 11:28
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Despite the downbeat economy, the tourism industry is optimistic.
Tourists join a spring-time festival at the Vietnamese ethnic tourism village in Son Tay, Hanoi. The tourism industry has proved to be one of the economy's better performers. 

The upcoming April 30-May 1 holidays, when most offices will be closed for five days, have seen travel demand go through the roof.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, demand has increased strongly all over the world, with the Asia-Pacific region topping with 8 per cent growth and accounting for 22 per cent of travellers world-wide.

The average global growth rate is around 5 per cent.

While people have admittedly tightened their purse strings, they are still travelling, according to tour operators.

Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper quoted them as saying, "It seems that the more the economy worsens, the more interest people show in travelling," and that it is "extraordinary" that tourism is thriving during a difficult period.

Tourism companies face severe competition not only from domestic rivals but also from foreign counterparts, especially in ASEAN member countries.

To survive they have had to settle for lower profits by offering more promotions.

Doan Thi Thanh Tra, head of marketing at Saigontourist, said her company is offering more than 100 tours during the holidays at the end of this month but has not hiked prices this time though they usually are during holiday seasons.

Saigontourist has struck deals with many airlines and hospitality and transport firms to ensure prices are low.

It hopes to serve more than 17,000 domestic and foreign visitors during the April-May holiday period, an increase of 10 per cent compared to last year.

It said sales was good, especially of tours to places like Phan Thiet, Nha Trang, Da Lat and Con Dao, Phu Quoc in the central and southern regions where it is already the hot season.

Tran Van Long, director of Viet Media Travel Co, said there have never been so many promotions from domestic and foreign airlines for travel companies.

Vietnam Airlines, for instance, is offering promotions on many domestic and international routes, as a result of which tours to Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia are even cheaper then domestic tours, he said.

They are very popular with customers, he said. At VND3 million for a tour to Cambodia, his firm expects more than 1,000 bookings during the holidays.

In all it expects to serve 5,000 people going on outbound tours.

Vietravel is offering discounts of VND2.5-3 million for tours by air to the central and northern regions.

Tours to ASEAN, other Asian, and European countries have seen prices cut by VND1-5 million.

Nguyen Minh Man, the company's deputy marketing and communications director, said the rate of bookings has risen to more than 80 per cent of the target.

The company hopes to serve an estimated 28,000 tourists, 25 per cent more than the same period last year.


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