|Terraced field in Ha Giang province|
On July 7, the “Vietnamese people travel across Viet Nam” campaign was officially launched with the target of encouraging domestic tourists to visit key destinations, especially remote and mountainous areas and islands. Mr. Nguyen Van Tuan, Head of the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), said that during the currently difficult times of the country, the domestic tourism will be the key to the industry’s continued growth. He said the domestic tourism segment has already done very well with localities nationwide welcoming 35 million visitors last year, creating strong momentum for future growth. The new campaign aims to have this segment make up of any shortfall in international visitors, he added. “It is reasonable to say that it is not necessary to travel great distances at great expense. You can experience and discover interesting things in Viet Nam. Our fatherland is gorgeous from Meo Vac, Lung Cu to Ca Mau with incredibly beautiful scenery. We also have the diverse culture of 54 ethnic groups, with gentle, hardworking people engaged in building and protecting the nation,” Tuan said. He noted that Viet Nam’s long coast ranked it 27 out of 156 countries in the world with more than 100 beautiful beaches. “Every visit will enhance the visitor’s understanding of the country as also her/his love for it,” he said. While the potential for domestic tourism yielding significant benefits is evident, it is not such a simple task at this time, experts have said. Vu The Binh, who heads the Viet Nam Travel Agents Association, said that the lack of coordination and co-operation among economic sectors has reduced the competitiveness of Viet Nam's tourism industry in the region. The service sector has not been very cooperative and its high prices cause difficulties for travel companies, he said. “We always want Vietnamese people to use Viet Nam-made goods but the relevant units increase their prices. The local tourism companies are now worried about the big changes in domestic tour prices.” The prices of domestic tours are up about 30% - 50% because of rising input costs, including airfare, electricity, fuel and food, making it very difficult for travel companies to sell tours without suffering losses. The situation is compounded by the fact that other markets in Asia are launching promotion campaigns with big discounts and attractive gifts. “We just keep claiming that our country has beautiful scenery or that domestic travel is a patriotic act without bringing out deeper changes by developing new tourism products and professional services,” Binh said. With a market of 90 million people, Viet Nam’s domestic tourism should be developed aggressively and outperform other countries in the region like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, but the local industry has developed in a fragmented manner without strict management, he added. In the coming time, sectors should closely cooperate and work out a strategy to encourage domestic tourists.