An AEON shopping mall in Japan. Photo by Doan Xuan Hai
The Japan Association of Travel Agents has chosen Vietnam as its major destination for next year, when it will specifically target luxury central coastal resorts, an official said.
Nguyen Quy Phuong, deputy head of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, told Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon Online that the Japanese association (JATA) made the decision after a meeting in Hanoi over the weekend, its first executive meeting abroad, and a field trip.
Phuong said the association announced it would push for flight routes to the central hub of Da Nang, which is near Quang Nam Province's famous Champa kingdom relics and Asia's second most popular town Hoi An according to Condé Nast readers, and Thua Thien-Hue Province, home to the former imperial capital at Hue, where Vietnam's last feudal family reigned until 1945.
The Vietnam-Japan Tourism Cooperation group also met recently, announcing goals like bringing a million Japanese tourists to Vietnam in 2015 compared to nearly 600,000 in 2012, and 200,000 Vietnamese to Japan from around 55,000 last year. Japanese arrivals in Vietnam have been increasing since 2010, by 9-24 percent a year, according to Phuong's agency.
National carrier Vietnam Airlines will begin landing at Haneda airport in Tokyo next year.
Retailing Japanese style
Japan is the biggest foreign investor in Vietnam, accounting for half of its FDI.
Japanese top retail group AEON is going to mark its presence in Vietnam with a $100 million shopping mall in Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Phu District launched this January, a month prior to the Lunar New Year and thus falling in the biggest shopping season of the year.
Besides making Vietnam its entry to Southeast Asia, AEON also has plans to build around 20 shopping malls in the country by 2020, including two under construction in the nearby Binh Duong Province and Hanoi.
AEON is operating 120 shopping malls across Japan that draw 50 million shoppers and profit $2 billion a year.
Soichi Okazaki, board chairman of AEON, told Thanh Nien News the chain's success is decided by its diversity of goods, convenient services and mostly prices, which are affordable to average income earners.
An AEON mall in Japan has different sectors catering to the demands for each person in a family, and one can buy everything from basic foods to a Harley Davidson motorbike.
Yukio Konishi, general director of AEON Mall Vietnam, said their shopping malls in Vietnam will follow the same model.
He said one third of the goods will be Japanese, one third made in Vietnam and the rest from other countries.
Vietnamese ambassador to Japan Doan Xuan Hung told Tuoi Tre in an interview Monday that the time for Vietnam to draw investment from Japan is ripe, and that the country should not let the chance slip way.
Hung said investment from Japan has increased over the past two years, and the two countries have managed to built a trust foundation for many more projects in the future.
Vietnam is having to compete with several Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Singapore, and the only advantage seems to be a bigger population, he said.
Japan has around 1.3 million small and medium enterprises, with around 33 percent working aboard, meaning high potentials from the rest for Vietnam, he said.
The ambassador said Vietnam's policies for foreign investment attraction are quite general and thus curb the enthusiasm of investors, who don't know what and where is in need.
Japan government earlier this year announced to provide 600 billion yen ($6.08 billion) in official development aid to the Mekong region countries in three years from April 2013, and Vietnam can draw a lot from that sum if it provides investors with specific information, he said.
Hung said with Japan, Vietnam should not just chase money. "We should make use of their technologies and experience. The good thing is Japanese people are willing to share and deliver their skills."
He said Vietnam can learn from Japanese technologies to bring more agricultural produce into this market, "where one mango costs $15, which can buy a kilo of the best mango in Vietnam."
Dragon fruit is the only Vietnamese fruit that has made its entry to Japan, and it took 13 years to do so.
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