Vietnam needs to do a better job at building its tourism brand

March 10, 2022 | 04:58 am PT
Vietnam needs to do a better job at building its tourism brand
A tourist boat in Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam, October 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Cuong
Some foreigners think Vietnam's tourism lacks strategic campaigns, while others simply wish to roam freely in a clean place.

"The customer is king. As long as Vietnam cannot see this, tourism will never properly open and blossom. Tourists want to be welcomed and roam free, not being told what to do or where to step."

"There is one key difference between Thailand and Vietnam: in Thailand one has the feeling of being able to travel around freely, from temple to temple, beach town to beach town, tourist site to tourist site, without interference or being shepherded anywhere. This is completely different in Vietnam--the mentality here is much more Chinese, and that has affected the ways that tourism is run and promoted. In fact, the very notion of having to direct tourism from the top down is antithetical to what many tourists want."

"There's a reason Vietnam has a very low return tourist rate. It's about 5 percent. Thailand & Bali is around 55 percent last time I looked. However, that 5 percent figure includes mostly expats doing cross-border visa runs on a regular basis. So the actual figure is close to zero return trade.

Repeat business has rarely been a factor in how things are done here. Scams and poor service don't help. There's an old saying. "You can shear a sheep for life, but you can only skin it once." Take that as a hint."

"Getting tourists is one thing. Having them return is another. I went to Mui Ne recently. The beach was filthy. Rubbish everywhere. My girlfriend and I filled up two bags. Got the train back to HCMC and the whole track had litter beside it. Entering Gare Saigon was like going into a dump. My jaw touched the ground. I've heard many tourists say they would not return to Vietnam due to how filthy it is. As the pandemic eases off the same energy that went into controlling the virus needs to go into cleaning up the beautiful country. It is not fair on the children who will ultimately have to spend years cleaning up the mess of the older generations."
Brian Horsham

"I went to Bai Tu Long cruise - all was perfect but all impressions were spoiled by long waiting in a crowded dusty yard for bus to return to Hanoi... overcrowding is to be avoided - it is not sustainable (crowds cause pollution, piles of garbage, attracts negative elements as scammers and thieves); well paying customers do not like overcrowding. Vietnam has many attractive places so work is to distribute travelers, promote less visited locations - it is not just Sa Pa, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, etc."

"I have been residing/working in various countries in Asia since 2005. During that time I distinctly recall various tourist campaigns from nearly all countries within the region with the exception of Vietnam. Many of the campaigns tend to focus on culture (Japan probably does this best) while others focus on the dynamic city life full of diverse options (Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok) with the other main collection being outdoor type holidays (beaches for Thailand and skiing in Japan). Each of these campaigns brought focus onto target destinations that are part of the overall strategic positions of each country. When I look at the Vietnam campaigns it seems to be to throw a bunch of ideas out and throw it at the wall and see what sticks without any core strategy/target consumer. Also with Vietnam being historically harder to get into (limited visa's upon landing) means some people won't bother when they can just arrive in most other countries in the region. Global tourism is going to be struggling for at least five years so there will be fewer tourists and those that are out there will be even more discerning as they know it is a buyers market so Vietnam is very likely to be left behind during the tourism recovery as a result of not having a good job of building their 'brand'."
Chris Roberts

"Everything comes with a price & tourism is no exception. A more fundamental question: Is Vietnam prepared to pay the price (which is not limited to 'losing your identity')? e.g. to pander for tourists, night life activities were extended to cater for the tourist $ (which was not Vietnam culture, traditions, customs). That is not a question for foreigners, nor special interest group (tourism authority, resort owners etc), but for the Vietnamese people as a whole. IF the answer is yes, then the next question: what 'type' of tourist does Vietnam want to attract? Does Vietnam want the loud, drunken, obnoxious (stereotypical) 'backpacker', or the sex tourist (for example) - many countries are saying NO to this type of tourist - but for them - it is too late. Only then can the country move forward. Then the country can start looking at the issue of visas. Perhaps (on this issue) that the region revisit the idea of the ASEAN visa (1 visa for the whole region), perhaps 'do away' with the tourist visa & instead have an 'entry tax' instead (other countries have had something similar to this for decades) - again: that is a NOT a decision for the foreigner, but for the Vietnam people. Finally: as we have seen twice in the last two decades, tourism can be decimated by outside factors & that also needs to be considered (the flow of the tourism $$$ can stop at ANY time)."

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