I buy made-in-Thailand products because they are cheaper than Vietnamese

By Dinh   September 24, 2023 | 11:40 pm PT
I buy made-in-Thailand products because they are cheaper than Vietnamese
Thailand's products are sold in a Vietnamese supermarket. Photo by VnExpress
My family enjoys going to Thailand for shopping, as they have products with a wider variety of designs, higher quality, and cheaper prices than Vietnam-made products.

In the first 6 months of 2023, Ho Chi Minh City received 1.9 million international tourists, which brought in VND80.83 trillion (US$3.3 billion) in revenue.

The revenue from tourist shopping activities accounts for 11% of the total, with international tourists accounting for 9% and domestic tourists 2%.

Despite shopping being the main income for urban tourism, tourists coming to HCMC only allocate 17% of their total budget to shopping here, compared to similar figures of 23% in Bangkok, 32% in Kuala Lumpur, and 28% in Singapore.

The reluctance to spend on shopping for tourists coming to Vietnam is due largely to the insane prices that small business owners in Vietnam charge.

This is a chronic issue the Vietnamese tourism industry has not tackled in many years. I traveled to Thailand before and bought several items there. I personally find their products to be very pretty, with high quality but lower prices than those in Vietnam.

This is very unusual, considering that Thailand’s GDP per capita is double the Vietnamese figure. My family, and many other Vietnamese, really enjoy going to Thailand for shopping because of this.

We don’t need to compare the Vietnamese tourism market with developed markets like the U.S., Japan, or Korea. Just a simple comparison with fellow developing countries in the region like Thailand or Malaysia will show many issues with business behavior in Vietnam.

For example, at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand, the price of a water bottle is similar to the product being sold anywhere else, at THB30 ($0.83) while a full meal will only cost THB70 ($1.95).

Meanwhile, in any airport in Vietnam, a bottle of water will cost eightfold compared to the same product sold elsewhere. Upon flying, no matter how thirsty I am, I try my best to wait until the free water is served on the plane.

These experiences mean that shopping in Vietnam is viewed negatively by both domestic and international tourists.

I'm not blindly advocating for foreign products, but we need to have a frank conversation about the prices of Vietnam-made products compared to similar products in other countries.

Even when Vietnamese people wish to support domestically made products, the support cannot last long if the price gaps are abhorrent. If Vietnamese people cannot accept the price-quality gap of our own products, how can we expect international tourists to?

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