New visa policy needs time to manifest benefits

(SGI) - Mr. ĐẶNG MẠNH PHƯỚC, CEO of The Outbox Company, which is an in-depth data analysis and market research company in tourism and hospitality, said that a more open visa policy is positive information for the entire tourism industry in Vietnam, but it is not a magic wand because it must be accompanied with tourism products development.
New visa policy needs time to manifest benefits

JOURNALIST: - Sir, the National Assembly has just approved amendments and supplements to a number of articles of the Law on the exit and entry of Vietnamese citizens and the Law on entry, exit, transit, and residence of foreigners in Vietnam. In your opinion, will Vietnam be able to boost its current tourism industry?

Mr. ĐẶNG MẠNH PHƯỚC: - In theory, this is positive news, but it will take more time to assess whether it will actually be able to increase the number of visitors to Vietnam. Because a visa is definitely not a magic wand in attracting tourists, and the most important thing to attract tourists is the competitiveness and attractiveness of the destination because no tourist chooses to travel just because there is an open visa policy in a country.

In fact, compared to other countries in the region, Vietnam's loosening of visa policy is not a competitive advantage, because other countries have done this before and have also extended it to many countries. We are not a mysterious country so when the visa door opens, it will immediately attract tourists. When choosing between countries in the region, guests will choose attractive destinations with products and services that meet their needs, but Vietnam is still weak in competition compared to some countries such as Thailand and Singapore.

However, it can be seen that the relevant agencies have actively supported the tourism industry, and this relaxation of visa policy is an example. Therefore, the next job is for the tourism industry as well as for tourism businesses. Removing the visa barrier is a necessary condition to increase access to tourists. However, the challenge that lies ahead for Vietnam's tourism industry is how to attract visitors, encourage them to stay longer, and spend more.

- Sir, we have high expectations from Chinese tourists, but so far the number of visitors from this market is still very weak in Vietnam. What do you think is the reason for this?

- The Chinese tourist market is a large-scale market, so when it opened up after the pandemic, not only Vietnam but most countries expected more from it. However, as a country with strict measures to prevent disease in the long run, visitors there also needed time to recover. They also follow the trend of developing domestic tourism first and then foreign tourism. But then Vietnam may still be affected because according to some studies, the trend of Chinese tourist choice of destinations after the pandemic has changed. Currently, Vietnam is in danger of falling out of the top priority markets of Chinese tourists. Meanwhile, there are countries that were previously less selected but now are making it on the list of top choices such as Indonesia.

In my opinion, in the coming time, the Chinese market and other places in Asia will still be the key markets for Vietnam, because the source of visitors from Western Europe or North America will hardly grow strongly. Firstly, this source of visitors tends to save costs in the face of a volatile world economic situation. Moreover, in order to effectively exploit the Asian tourist source, we need to have more methodical strategies and more breakthrough solutions to hit the needs of each market.

In Southeast Asia, Malaysia is a country with great potential. According to statistics, Malaysia is the largest inbound visitor market of Thailand and Indonesia, ranked in the top three largest source markets of Singapore, and ranked 7th in Vietnam in the first quarter of this year. But so far, our products, travel services, and programs specifically for the Malaysian market have not appeared very attractive. We need to refer to some of the ways some countries in the region attract returning visitors. For instance, Hong Kong is good at attracting visitors back they have launched a campaign for free air tickets for tourists from many countries, including Vietnam.

- Sir, in the past, Vietnam's tourism has always been at the top growth in terms of visitor search volume, and many magazines and travel websites have also chosen Vietnam as the ideal destination. Do you think these are positive signs for Vietnam’s tourism industry in the future?

- Recently, information such as the number of searches for information about Vietnam tourism on the Google search engine has continuously increased but the fact that visitors search for information does not mean that they will come to Vietnam. The data is for reference only, and organizations publish data sometimes to partially serve their purposes such as business.

Similarly, many travel websites also put Vietnam or destinations in Vietnam on the list of ideal destinations, but whether these results can be converted into an increase in the number of visitors to Vietnam is the most important thing. The numbers can make us happy, but new arrivals and revenue growth must convince us how effective we are.

I think that the recovery of tourism in Vietnam this time has also had certain results. But we need to change the way we approach customers. It is necessary to increase direct access to visitors, not only through promotional activities and fairs but through businesses in the form of B2B.

- Thank you very much.

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