Tourism to boom during Christmas, New Year

TN News

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 Two tourists prepares for kite surfing on a beach of the coastal resort town of Phan Thiet. The tourism industry is projected to generate US$4.6 billion this year, according to local tourist authorities.

Travel firms reported an increasing demand for domestic and outbound tours on Christmas and New Year holidays this year. Many cited the fact that the holidays fall on weekends, which is a motivating factor for the enthusiasm.

Doan Thi Thanh Tra, marketing manager of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Saigontourist, said most domestic air tours during the holidays were sold out by mid-November.

Meanwhile, the number of bookings for outbound tours increased 17 percent from last year, she said.

Lai Huu Phuong, a senior official at the HCMC-based Ben Thanh Tourist claimed that although few have booked holiday tours, he remains very optimistic.

Last-minute bookings have become a popular trend and business is booming, he said.

"Normally, few people travel in October and November," Phuong said. "But this year, the situation was different. Our company had 3,000 guests in November - the highest ever."

Moreover, the number of local travelers heading abroad went up this year, too, despite the US dollar rising against the dong.

This Christmas and New Year's, domestic tourists continue to favor popular spots like Da Lat, Phu Quoc, Con Dao, Da Nang, and Phan Thiet. Outbound tourists, meanwhile, are packing their bags for Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, tour operators said.

"Air tourism is developing very fast," said Tu Quy Thanh, director of Travelink. "As long as we have air tickets, we can sell the tour."

The government said economic recovery has spurred tourism. But the tourism boom appears to have outpaced economic growth.

Officials expect the economy to grow 6.7 percent this year. Meanwhile, the tourism industry is projected to generate US$4.6 billion for the country, a sharp increase from last year's $3 billion.

Prices unchanged

Representatives from many travel agencies such as Saigontourist, Travelink, Ben Thanh Tourist said tour prices for Christmas and New Year holidays have not changed.

"The tour price for the holidays this year is relatively stable," said Nguyen Ngoc An, head of Fiditourist's domestic travel department.

"Only a few tours have experienced a slight increase in prices as local service providers raised their fees," he said. "Tours to Con Dao have seen the highest hike - more than 10 percent."

On the other hand, tours for the New Lunar Year, which falls in early February, will cost much more as suppliers are expected to raise prices for travel, food and hotel rooms, tour operators said.

A supermarket in Ho Chi Minh City is crowded with shoppers. Vietnam's retail industry has grown 25 percent so far this year.

Inbound markets

Vietnam's tourism industry has plans to increase advertising activities throughout Asia and Europe, an official said.

Vu The Binh, head of the Travel Department under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said his agency has pinned high hopes on these markets owing to high traffic from these regions over the past several years.

China and ASEAN are considered the largest per capita suppliers of tourists while Europe, Japan, and Korea supply more moneyed visitors, he said.

Vietnam received 4.6 million foreign tourists in the first 11 months of this year, a 36.5 percent increase over the same period last year, according to the General Statistics Office.

The 11-month figure has exceeded the target of 4.5 million visitors for the whole of 2010 set by the National Administration of Tourism.

According to the government, Vietnam may be able to attract more than five million tourists by the end of this year - surpassing the record of 4.23 million in 2008.

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