Vietnam metro considers ways to boost tourists' spending

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A foreign tourist at a handicrafts shop in HCMC

Ho Chi Minh City authorities have announced the establishment of a tourism promotion center to encourage more investment in more amusement and shopping places to increase per capita spending by foreign tourists which is at a low level now.

La Quoc Khanh, director of the new center and vice director of the city Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, told Thanh Nien said there are plans to build plenty of tourism destinations and launch festivals targeted at visitors.

Despite being the country's tourism hub and passenger entrepôt, the city lacks many places where tourists could spend money, he said.

"It is necessary to create attractive entertainment places," he said.

Vietnam has "very low" earnings per capita from tourists, Ton That Hoa, general secretary of the Vietnam Tourism Administration, told Thanh Nien.

Foreign tourists only spend on essentials like accommodation and transport, and rarely on recreational activities or shopping, he said.

Vietnam should follow Thailand's example and sell tours at very low prices, usually just US$200-300.

But then a tourist spends up to $1,000 while in that country since it offers numerous attractive entertainment and shopping activities, he said.

On the other hand, a tour to Vietnam costs tourists $500, but otherwise they spend just a few dozens of dollars, he said.

"Why tourists to Vietnam or HCMC spend just a little is something that the [new] Tourism Promotion Center needs to study and address." 

Khanh said HCMC welcomed 3.8 million international arrivals last year, an increase of 8.5 percent from 2011.

The tourism sector earned VND68 trillion ($3.24 billion), up 20 percent year-on-year. It accounted for 40 percent the country's tourism revenues and 11 percent of the city's GDP, he added.

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