Oct 14, 2012

Vietnam - When travel firms keep indifferent to traditional festivals

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VietNamNet Bridge - Watchdog agencies and culturists believe that Vietnamese original traditional festivals would help attract more tourists. However, travel firms do not think so.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism VNAT and the Hai Phong City People’s Committee have launched the 2013 National Tourism Year campaign, aiming to attract Vietnamese and foreign travelers. The theme of the campaign is the Red River Delta - Hai Phong tourism, according to Saigon Tiep thi.

However, the event has not really stirred the public, because experts say they cannot see any new and interesting ideas for the organization of the national tourism year program.

The organizers have designed a lot of traditional festivals which would be very costly. However, these are not the things travel firms want. What they want to see are the attractive tourist products and the improvement in infrastructure conditions in order to better serve clients.

In fact, travel firms said they did not put high expectations on the national tourism year campaigns. No original tourism product has been created, no tourism site name has been polished and no improvement in the infrastructure system has been made over the last 8 campaigns.

VNAT, when reviewing the national tourism year campaigns, can only show the increases in the numbers of tourists to the localities which hosted the events, mostly the guests to the main and sideline events of the campaigns. Meanwhile, it is not sure about the actual numbers of tourists to the localities. There also has been no reliable basis to assess the efficiency of the national tourism year campaigns in comparison with the investment costs.

It is estimated that tens of billions of dong have been spent on festivals and events every year to promote tourism.

According to VNAT’s general director Nguyen Van Tuan, some 30 festivals would be organized within the framework of the 2013 Red River Delta – Hai Phong National Tourism Year which would take place in Hai Phong and 12 other provinces and cities.

Meanwhile, travel firms remain cold to the news. Though Hai Phong has the Cat Bi international port which makes it more favorable to bring tourists from HCM City to Hai Phong. However, Hai Phong has not appeared in the lists of destinations for domestic tours drawn up by travel firms.

No travel firm in HCM City has developed the tours to Hai Phong, even though the national flag air carrier offers low airfares for the HCM City-Hai Phong flights. In some cases, tourists arrive in Hai Phong so that they can fly to HCM City from the Cat Bi airport instead of the Noi Bai airport in Hanoi.

Nguyen Van My, Director of Lua Viet travel firm, frankly said that travel firms are not interested in festivals. In general, the service fees skyrocket on the days the events take place, while it’s very difficult to book hotel rooms for tourists.

“The things that travel firms expect are the original products. “Why don’t we turn the Bach Dang river area, where there were iron stakes used to fight against the Yuan army--into an excursion site? Why do we have to bring the historical stakes into museums?” he said.

Do Son beach in the north cannot attract southern travelers, who many times travel to the wonderful beaches in the south and the central region.

Vo Anh Tai, Director of Saigontourist, said Cat Ba is really a beautiful landscape of Hai Phong, but the inconvenient traffic would be a big obstacle to keep travelers away. Hai Phong has a seaport, but this is a cargo port which is not suitable to cruise ships.

“Travelers want original and unfamiliar destinations, attractive tour schedules and need the services at reasonable fees, while they do not expect imposing events,” Tai noted.


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