Speaking with Saigon Investment, Mr. Phan Đình Huê, Director of Vietcircle Tourism Company, said that domestic tourism must be developed methodically so as to exploit its full potential. He believes it is necessary to build a sustainable tourism market for the long-term.
JOURNALIST: - Sir, the localities all claim to offer better products and services to attract customers after the pandemic, but the reality is so different. Will this push Vietnamese tourists closer to overseas tours when tourism reopens again?
Mr. PHAN ĐÌNH HUÊ: - In my opinion, the number of Vietnamese people traveling abroad this year will not be much. The reason is that guests are concerned with the unknown situation of the disease, and they fear an outbreak of the disease in the country that they travel to and the possibility of being trapped there.
Not to mention, in the course of travel, if unfortunately the guest is infected with Covid-19 and cannot join the scheduled itinerary, or on the day of return they are infected, it will be difficult to enter the country when quarantined. The prices of tours going abroad are currently quite high, so it is not possible to convince many tourists. Many travel companies themselves are also very cautious when designing tours to go abroad for fear of big risks. Currently, the tours that take guests out must have close negotiations and very thoughtful preparation.
When it is not possible to choose many foreign tours, domestic tourism becomes the first choice of tourists, of which the recent Hùng Kings Anniversary is proof. It is true that there are many customers but the service has not satisfied many customers. Part of the reason is that businesses have been closed for a long time, making infrastructure weak and human resources not being sufficient to cope, so they cannot serve customers well.
In fact, localities and people who do tourism are happy to see an increase in visitors, but this is only the season of change, and what tourism needs is a long and sustainable plan. Therefore, localities need to strongly check, correct and support tourism businesses in the area, need to know what businesses lack, and see what is wrong and correct it. Localities can support capital, and support human resource training for businesses, and then revitalize the tourism industry. Of course, for tourism services to improve it will take time, but everything has to start now.
- Sir, when tourism revives after the pandemic, the demand for price reduction will come up. In your opinion, will the sharp discount on many units distort the tourism market?
- A friend of mine who owns an accommodation facility told me that room booking units ask for room discounts to stimulate tourism, while the booking units still take the same commission money. Taxes have reduced but very little, and employees expect to receive better salaries, while input costs are constantly increasing. If the room rate is reduced, the quality of the service must be reduced and the guests will then complain. The last option is to keep the room rate the same to maintain the quality. This fact shows the dilemma of many tourism businesses, when input costs increase, they have to reduce prices, but if the price is reduced, the quality is not guaranteed.
Businesses are facing many difficulties, but so far after more than two years of the pandemic, they have not received much support from the State. Businesses have called for a lower loan interest rate so that they can promote investment in facilities, or support programs to train personnel, to attract back a qualified workforce. However, in reality they still have to be self-reliant.
Talking more about the stimulus program, there are some businesses that offer huge discounts to buyers. But if the decrease is stronger, buyers need to be more vigilant and management agencies need to check and control the market. Because when the reduction is too strong, it will distort the market, and make competition unfair, because the reduction in service quality cannot be guaranteed.
As I said, this year or even in the next one to two years, there is no need to worry about Vietnamese tourists going abroad like before the pandemic. Each business, each locality, and the whole tourism industry must roll up their sleeves to revive tourism methodically. The domestic tourism market is huge but needs to be sustainable, not just for the holidays. We also have the right to be proud that Vietnam has many international standard accommodation service facilities for serving the increasing needs of domestic tourists. This is the basis for better domestic tourism.
- Sir, in your opinion, is the international segment positive right now?
- I still maintain the point of view that I have shared many times, that the international tourist market still does not have many bright spots. Firstly, Vietnamese tourists going abroad are still worried about the pandemic and so are international visitors coming to Vietnam. Second, the main tourist market is China, which is still stuck, and visitors from Europe and the US are affected by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, so the flight routes are not favorable. Next, the cost of a tour is now more expensive than before. Currently, the delegations coming to Vietnam are mostly small groups, combining business or are groups of adventurous tourists who aspire to travel.
In addition to the above-mentioned difficulties, there are currently a number of problems that businesses have proposed which have not been approved, such as visa policy. As for the changes in products and services in localities to attract tourists, it is not clear, although many have been mentioned before. The industry's strategy to build a brand and promote Vietnam's tourism in the post-pandemic era has not been methodical and has not been full of efforts, so it is difficult to attract tourists even this year.
- Thank you very much.