Media expert Lê Quốc Vinh. — Photo courtesy of Vinh
Lê Quốc Vinh, media expert and chairman of the Lê Bros Company, speaks to the Thế giới&Việt Nam (The World & Việt Nam) newspaper about creating more attractive tourism products and tourism promotion activities to better compete with other Southeast Asian countries.
How do you assess the positive recovery of Việt Nam's tourism at the moment and in the future?
Việt Nam is an attractive destination for international tourists. It's been four months since we actually opened for international travel, and it’s a reasonable time for people to start making arrangements for their next journey.
After about six to 12 months, international travel service companies start to bring Việt Nam back into their tourism programmes. We regularly monitor foreign tourists’ appearance at important destinations and see positive signs.
Although the reappearance of foreign tourists has not been too high, there is an obvious increasing trend.
I believe that next year will see the return of international tourism after much effort in the second half of this year.
What is the innovation of media in promoting tourism and national image?
Việt Nam tourism is being promoted in many ways. As well as the tourism industry, the culture and diplomacy sectors are also making their own plans. One event recently was the Huế Festival in June.
The organiser has made great efforts to connect with diplomatic missions of different countries to bring their art troupes and visitors to Việt Nam. The coming ITE International Travel Exposition in September in HCM City will directly impact international travellers. My company will also organise a sports event as a strategy of using sports events to promote tourism.
But, to be honest, I have not seen any methodical campaigns promoting national destinations, or destinations in each locality. Travel businesses, hotels and resort businesses have experienced fierce destruction from the COVID-19 pandemic. They have not been able to immediately recover, to deploy advertising campaigns for international tourism.
Currently, they are aware that in the immediate period, domestic tourism is still the focus, so most of the prominent advertising and communication campaigns are heading to the domestic market.
How should the strategy of promoting national image and tourism in Việt Nam be invested to bring the most practical and effective benefits?
After a period of almost exhaustion due to COVID-19, tourists will be very selective about their next destination. It must be very different, novel and attractive compared to other options.
The communication campaign must have a focus, with a simple message, promoting a unique and different value, to create a great attraction effect.
For example, a culinary art, a peaceful sunset on the beach, or a unique cultural festival. Once attracted by strong impressions, visitors can study it.
How should Việt Nam's tourism products change to catch up with market trends and tourists’ needs?
New tourism products must be designed to serve the strategic objectives of the communication campaign. For example, if we choose food and food tours as the focus of next year's media campaign, the new product must focus on that.
According to the modern marketing concept, people create products that serve customers’ needs instead of convincing them to buy the products.
In tourist areas, each place will have its own strengths. We should find out how that strength solves a problem and design specific tourism products that serve that purpose.
Of course, those new products must be part of the existing tourism ecosystem, which are additional points and enriching tourism products that are already strengths.
What is Việt Nam's capacity compared with other countries in Southeast Asia?
ASEAN is both a partner and a competitor in the tourism industry. Cooperation and association with ASEAN countries to create regional tourism solutions and services is a way to promote tourism development in Việt Nam.
We see the number of visitors to Siam Reap in Cambodia increased a lot, and attracting some of them to the Mekong Delta to extend their journey is a possible solution.
Việt Nam still has to compete with other ASEAN countries by creating more attractive tourism products. Tourism promotion activities must be more flexible.
Most ASEAN countries have a methodical, modern and constantly renewed tourism promotion system, especially Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia.
We know their strengths and our weaknesses, but we innovate too slowly. — VNS