Last week, Việt Nam News asked its readers if Việt Nam should, in a way, follow South Korea’s steps in limiting cheap tours into the country.
Here are some of the responses:
Nguyễn Việt Loan Foster, Chairwoman of Journeys to the East, Hà Nội
South Korea has enjoyed steady growth in tourism. If the Korean Tourism Organisation has decided they will no longer fund promotion campaigns for any cheap tour from Việt Nam to South Korea ( less than US$538), it means they know what the country’s booming tourism industry needs to do to sustain high paying visitors.
According to a report of the Financial Times (2016), plastic surgery has been one of the most successful export areas for the country’s medical sector. The trend will create a boom in demand for medical services – a dynamic that the government is keen to complement by promoting rapid growth in the country’s medical tourism, pharmaceutical and medical equipment industries.
It shows that the government sees the great potential in this sector and is determined to aim at high-end services in medical tourism.
If Việt Nam wants to boost growth of its lifestyle and leisure industry it needs to make up its mind and put policies in place to promote high-end tourism and curtail mass arrivals of what we call "zero revenue tourism" at borders where the foreign tour operators bring their own guides, take their customers to their own shops where they buy what they want with vouchers, leaving no revenue to the locals.
Việt Nam is blessed to have it all: mountains, a long coastline dotted with state of the art resorts & spas, ancient citadels and a historical background.
As a high-end cultural tourism operator my aim is to push the bar higher and higher - as tourism has shifted to a “travel experience”, more than a destination per se. So the Government needs to support and provide funding for infrastructure in remote regions as well as marketing assistance. The potential of developing sustainable high-end tourism is real.
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Hà Nội
The question of tour guide promotions versus costs is confusing. Governments should let the market and fair competition decide. Traditionally, the Ministry of Tourism promotes culture and tries to present a good image.
Individual companies should be the ones pricing tours and trying to attract customers. The cost of the tour reflects the contents of the tour plus the level of service, location and length. Việt Nam is different than South Korea. Just cross into China, Laos or Cambodia and you’ll see how different things are.
Rather than react to South Korea’s decision to place a lower end limit cost on tours into their country, Việt Nam should act in an independent and mature manner. You should encourage interesting cross-cultural events and educate your people about the opportunities to study, work and vacation in South Korea.
Don’t let them or anyone else determine your market strategy. Learn to compete on a global scale and become the frontrunner in ASEAN. If you are wise, patient and look to the long term, you will be successful. Pretty soon there will be long line ups for tours into Việt Nam, regardless of price. Forget about South Korea!
Heading overseas is fine, if you can afford it. Not everyone is rich or needs to visit Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California.
Hari Chathrattil, Hà Nội
Who are the people who take these “cheap” tours into the country? What do such tours entail? A study several years ago found that backpackers spend more money in a country than the “high-end” tourists because they tended to stay in the country for longer. More importantly, they tend to be more respectful of the host country’s traditions.
All tours, whether cheap or high-end, need to protect the country’s cultural traditions. Việt Nam has had a problem with retaining visitor interest, with many tourists reportedly not interested in returning. Authorities should find out why, and take follow up action.
I have seen many hostels for backpackers offering cheap accommodation that are very creatively designed. They use scarce resources far more efficiently than five-star establishments.
Việt Nam needs to remain authentic, in order to sustain its tourism sector. This will be very difficult it focuses mainly on promoting high-end tourism. A counter-intuitive solution maybe called for. — VNS