Why tourists never return to several Vietnam destinations

By Duy Khang   March 16, 2022 | 07:34 pm PT
Why tourists never return to several Vietnam destinations
The Statue of Liberty in Check-in An Sapa, an unlicensed tourism complex in Sa Pa Town, April 2021. The site has since been shut down. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Bad experiences and the lack of an oomph factor are among major reasons that deter tourists from visiting a place again.

The sense of shame I felt recently after seeing a foreign tourist receive a cutthroat bill akin to extortion was distressing and revealing. This is one of many reasons why so many decide not to return to Vietnam, ever.

We can't blame the foreigners. Most of us who've traveled can think of a destination or two in the country that we would never come back to. Why?

First, our tourism service doesn't offer anything particular that leaves a lasting positive impression on visitors and earns their loyalty.

Scenic views aren't enough on their own. These must be backed up with quality service. For example, my last trip to the Monkey Island in Khanh Hoa Province's Nha Trang Town was neither unique nor interesting. The only thing that stood out was the monkeys. People won't recommend such a destination to friends and families, let alone coming back.

Second, tourists are still being hassled, tricked and taken advantage of. It has happened in many places for a long time, stretching from north to south. I have personally fallen prey to such tactics before, learning the hard lesson: don't return.

My friend and I were sitting at the HCMC Post Office one day when a foreigner came to us for help. She handed over a slip of paper, similar to a bill from a shop in Ben Thanh market, and asked me details about some things she'd bought.

From her looks and gestures, I understood that she was doubtful about the bill. My jaw dropped as I looked at the absurdly high prices she'd been charged. I explained things and directed her to another shop with more reasonable prices. I couldn't believe something like that had happened at the Ben Thanh Market, one of the oldest, most iconic landmarks in Saigon.

Third, several tourism sites are "developing" themselves for short-term financial gains without paying attention to the bigger picture and possible environmental impacts. We can see this happening in Da Lat, Sa Pa and some locations in the Central Highlands. Erecting messy buildings and sky trams without proper safety measures and skilled personnel to operate them, only creates bland, boring destinations not worth a second look.

And finally, people are just looking to profit from tourism sites in any way possible, including by selling goods and souvenirs that can be found anywhere else and have nothing to do with what makes a site unique. From Can Tho to Da Nang and Ninh Binh, I see the same mass-produced wooden statuettes being sold with the exact same model and serial number. How can such a thing make a tourist site special?

I have only recounted some examples off the top of my head. Our tourism industry is still flawed in many ways, and if we don't try to mend them, this "key" industry would forever be locked into a rut.

The opinions expressed here are personal and do not necessarily match VnExpress's viewpoints. Send your opinions here.
go to top