||Asean Affairs 4 June 2013
Travel agencies demand greater industry cohesion
HCM CITY-A tourism-stimulation programme launched by the National Administration of Tourism is hampered by a lack of co-operation among service suppliers, travel agency representatives have said.
The programme, launched this year on May 29 to boost tourism during a global recession, encourages travel agencies around the country to slash prices.
However, many travel companies say that other suppliers like hotels and restaurants should lower prices as well.
Tran The Dung, deputy director of The He Tre Tourism Company, said his company was "dying because of a sharp fall in sales".
Dung took part in a conference held last week by the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) in collaboration with HCM City's Department of Sports, Culture and Tourism.
Dung said that more linkages were needed between hotels, restaurants and transportation firms.
Many of them were "standing outside the game", he added.
Speaking at the conference, La Quoc Khanh, deputy director of HCM City's Tourism Department, noted that tourism growth had slowed this year in the city.
For the first five months, the city welcomed more than 1.6 million international visitors, a year-on-year rise of 7 per cent, but growth was lower than last year's 10 per cent jump during the same period.
At times this year, the average occupancy rate at several four – to five-star hotels was only 18-19 per cent.
Khanh said the situation was similar to 2009, when there was a tourism slump.
The deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Tourism Association, Vu The Binh, agreed that Viet Nam must create better linkages between tourism companies and suppliers, as other countries do.
Tax incentives from the Government would also help the tourism sector, he said.
Phan Dinh Hue, director of Viet Circle Travel and Service Ltd, said that lower taxes would allow companies to reduce tour-package prices.
VNAT has proposed to the Government to halve VAT and either reduce or exempt 50 per cent of corporate income tax this year for travel companies.
Hoang Thi Diep, deputy general director of VNAT, has asked travel agencies to begin reducing prices soon to attract more customers.
As part of its annual demand-stimulation programme, VNAT has created a new website at www.timelesscharm.vn in English and Vietnamese.
On the website, travel companies can advertise their tour promotions free of charge.
Also, VNAT plans to offer more FAM (familiarisation) trips to media and place more adverts about Viet Nam tourism in foreign media.
At the conference, delegates also discussed the "Viet Nam-Endless Beauty" tourism campaign in key and potential markets, including mainland China, India, the Middle East, Japan, the Republic of Korea and ASEAN countries.
Other targeted markets include Russia, France, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Eastern Europe.
According to VNAT, international tourist arrivals in Viet Nam reached 2.9 million in the first five months, a fall of 1.4 per cent compared to the same period last year.
About 2.4 million tourists travelled by air, a decrease of 3.4 per cent.