Japanese Association of Travel Agents
Pacific Asia Travel Association
American Society of Travel Agents
Vietnam is “shooting star” in Southeast Asian tourism

Germany, with the population of over 82 million, is viewed as a potential market of the Vietnamese tourism sector. The German arrivals in Vietnam nearly doubled from 2002 to 2005 and German tour operators see Vietnam as one of the shooting stars in Southeast Asia.

Shooting star

In Germany alone, over 60 tour operators feature Vietnam, and the arrival figures speak for themselves: 21,719 Germans visited Vietnam in 1999, whereas in 2005 that number had already tripled with 64,488 arrivals.

Many German tour operators are increasing the number of tours to take tourists to Vietnam and say that it appears to be Southeast Asia’s shooting star, with the highest growth potential. Many things in Vietnam can attract Germans such as friendly people, nice beaches, unspoilt nature and cultural attractions, said Ulrike Beinlich, German marketing and public relations consultant.

In the past, it was a favoured destination for backpackers and culturally curious travellers, who finished their Vietnam trip with a beach stay in Thailand or Bali in Indonesia. In the meantime, Vietnam has also become popular for beach holidays, as more international holiday hotels have been built on the coast.

Ms Beinlich said many Germans know Vietnam through the images of the Vietnam War, President Ho Chi Minh (who was very much admired by what in Germany was called the “68 Generation”, Saigon, and books and stories by Graham Greene and Marguerite Duras.

Many German individuals who have not yet travelled to Vietnam imagine it to be something like Thailand in the past: unspoilt beaches, a great natural environment, a country without mass tourism.

Neckermann Reisen Travel Company said beach clients are mainly repeaters who have already travelled through the country. Mui Ne in Binh Thuan province, near Ho Chi Minh City, is one of Neckermann’s favourites, where it even posts one of its own tour guides.

Marco Polo Reisen Travel Company is also happy with its Vietnam business. In 2005, this company registered an increase of 13% in visitors over 2004. So far, 2006 also looks very promising.

Meier’s Weltresen travel company is expecting a 20% increase (until now, roughly 8,000 visitors to Vietnam) and other tour operators see the same tendency.

Advertising and marketing needed

To raise efficiency of attracting tourists from Europe in general and from Germany in particular, Vietnamese travel companies should raise its professionalism in its activities and organisation and have a long-term consultancy and marketing, said W.M Van Doorn, co-director of the Vietnam human resources development in tourism project.

“It is ‘like a fish out of water’ for many travel firms of Vietnam to have access to information of the European market, including Germany. They lack a professional contingent of marketing executives and have not yet established solid partnership with big travel companies in Europe,” said Nguyen Anh Tuan from the Travel Department of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.

About 55% of tourists who travel abroad annually are from Europe, of which the United Kingdom and Germany belong to the Top Three Countries with the most residents travelling abroad, said Mr Doorn. He said that tourists from Europe also take long-haul holiday trips and spend a lot of money.

Vietnam is also facing hard competitiveness with regional rivals like Thailand and Indonesia to attract tourists from Germany. The largest competitor is Thailand with 420,000 German visitors in 2005 and this year, 460,000 Germans are expected.

“Try to do more marketing in German market because you have a lot of competitors. Vietnam should put emphasis on the countryside, on the people, on the atmosphere and on the cultural attractions,” suggested Ulrike Beinlich.

She said, “Other Southeast Asian countries have their own tourist offices in Germany. Thailand has been on the tourism map in Germany for 30 years. They do a lot of promotion, marketing, advertising.”

“Thailand is very good at marketing and you have to learn from them,” advised Julio Aramberri, a tourism expert from Spain who specialises in culinary arts and food science.

Ms Beinlich said Germans like taking trans-nation tours and encountering with locals. They are interested in unspoilt nature (eco-tourism), beach stays, attractive hotels and spas. They do not like staying in badly equipped hotels and being served by unfriendly staff with unreliable services.

By Huy Cuong_ Nhan Dan

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