Travel firms face quiet inbound tourism season

From SeptemBUSINESS IN BRIEF 1-11ber onwards to early next year is the high inbound tourism season in Vietnam. However, the number of foreign travelers to Vietnam so far this year remains modest, so October is nearly ending.

Travel firms have doubts about the feasibility of the plan to receive 6.5 million foreign travelers in 2012 set up earlier this year. In the first nine months of the year, only 4.8 million foreign travelers arrived in Vietnam.

General Director of the Cuu Long 5-star Hotel in HCM City Nguyen Anh Vu said on Thanh nien that the hotel room occupancy rate decreased by six percent in the first nine months of the year in comparison with the same period of the last year, from 78 percent to 72 percent.

“We have never seen such a sharp decrease, though we keep the hotel room rate unchanged,” Vu said.

He does not think that the situation would be improved towards the end of the year. Meanwhile, other hotel owners in the city fear that the downward trend would continue in the time to come.

Tao Van Nghe, General Director of Rex Hotel, who is also Chair of the HCM City Hotel Association, has also confirmed the decrease in the number of guests staying at the hotels in the city.

Travel firms have also complained about the sharp falls in the number of foreign tourists. Tran Van Long, Director of Du Lich Viet, has reported the 40 percent of the inbound tourists so far this year, while the orders from foreign partners for the year-end tours remain modest.

In order to stimulate the demand, Long said his travel firm has to launch the tours (all domestic, inbound and outbound) with the fees just equal to the cost prices.

According to Quan doi nhan dan newspaper, the growth number of foreign tourists to Vietnam has been on the decline. It has cited the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism’s (VNAT) report as saying that the number of foreign tourists had increased by the end of February, but the growth rate had decreased to 10.8 percent by the end of July and to 9.4 percent by August.

In September 2012 alone, Vietnam received 460,238 foreign tourists, a decrease of 13.7 percent from August.

Thanh nien has quoted a director of a big travel firm in HCM City as saying that the number of foreign tourists, who only book tours at Vietnamese travel firms after they arrive in Vietnam, has also decreased dramatically.

Especially, the number of members of tourism groups has also decreased. In the previous years, a group had 25 travelers on average, while there are 10-15 travelers now.

The executive has also revealed that the number of MICE (meeting, incentive, conference, exhibition) tourists has dropped by 40 percent.

The sharp fall in the number of inbound tourists has been explained by the serious economic crisis, which has forced people to cut down their spending on non-essential needs.

Travelers nowadays, when planning outbound tours, tend to head for nearby countries to save money. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s biggest markets are relatively far.

Also according to VNAT, six out of the 10 key markets of Vietnam have seen the numbers of travelers down. These include France (down by 50 percent), South Korea (22 percent), China (18 percent), the US (15 percent).

Nevertheless, while witnessing the number of foreign travelers to Vietnam decreasing sharply, Vietnam has seen the number of Russian travelers increasing rapidly.

Dan Viet newspaper has quoted its sources as saying that the sea city of Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa province alone has received 60,000 Russian tourists so far this year, while the figure may reach 100,000 by the end of the year.

Compiled by C. V