What to do to attract more Japanese travelers? - part 2

     How to lure more Japanese travelers to Vietnam as said by Vietnamese travel firms that remains  a headache.


 
On Phu Quoc island
Doing business in pain

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) reported that 481,500 Japanese travelers came to Vietnam in 2011, an increase of 8.9 percent in comparison with 2010. 

At the HCM City International Tourism Trade Fair held in September 2011, a representative of JTB, the leading travel firm in Japan, said before the Vietnamese high ranking officials that a lot of Japanese people would get surprised when hearing about such a high number of Japanese travelers to Vietnam. The problem is that Vietnam counted on the Japanese people who came to Vietnam for the business purpose as well. Meanwhile, Vietnam has yet become a popular choice for Japanese travelers.

General Director of Vietravel, Nguyen Quoc Ky, when asked about the Japanese market, said that Vietnamese travel firms now have to “do business in pain.” Japanese partners have repeatedly asked for the tour fee reductions. In 2011, the number of Viettravel’s Japanese clients increased by 21.8 percent, but the travel firm had to accept the 10 percent fee reductions. 

Ky said that the partners have asked for a further fee reduction of 10-15 percent in 2012, while all the input costs have increased sharply.

“Since the percentage of travelers returning to Vietnam remains modest, we have to build up a new strategy to attract travelers and accept a painful competition by offering tour fee reductions,” said Shigemastsu Akifumi from SIH Song Han, adding that travel firms have been facing big difficulties, while the management agencies do not know about that.

When asked about the measures to attract Japanese travelers by 2015, General Director of JTB-TNT Nguyen Van Tan expressed his worry about the lack of tour guides.

Nguyen Xuan Ky, Marketing Director of A Dong Trade and Tourism Company, said that A Dong once planned to launch heavy promotion campaigns in Japan, but it then decided to develop the market in a cautious way, partially because of the lack of tour guides.

“How will Vietnam plan to develop the number of tour guides who can speak Japanese?” Ky questioned. In fact, this is the common question of many other travel firms.

 

Saori Kozumi from Apex travel firm said that in Japanese families, wives would make decisions on choosing tours, therefore, travel firms need to draw up the special attention from Japanese women to their products. In fact, Vietnam has many things attractive to Japanese women, such as ao dai (traditional Vietnamese long dress), meals, shopping, and beauty care services.

Vietnam to open tourism promotion office in Tokyo

Ten years ago, the government agreed in principle to the opening of VNAT’s representative offices in foreign countries in order to push up the tourism promotion in some key markets.

Vietnamese management agencies and some non-government organizations have recently shown their determination to open a tourism promotion office in Tokyo. The Japanese side has set up a committee in charge of lobbying for the support to Vietnam to open office, which gathers diplomatic officers, businesses and telecom agencies of the two countries.

An official from VNAT has revealed that the office may be opened in 2013.

Analysts have commented that it’s a little late to think of opening a representative office now. Laos and Cambodia both have had the offices already, though they received less Japanese travelers than Vietnam.

Sources have said that the estimates for the opening of the office from February 2012 to January 2013, would be 4.2 billion dong. Meanwhile, VNAT’s Deputy General Director Hoang Thi Diep has admitted that the State has allocated the modest budget of 1 billion dong.

Nguyen Thang