Asian tourists choose footwear at Ben Thanh market in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre
Retailers in Ho Chi Minh City said Vietnamese clothing and handicrafts have become favorites with tourists, many of whom come back with orders of tens of thousands of dollars.
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted them as saying that by ensuring high quality they are persuading visitors from Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia to buy repeatedly.
Cloth and garment shops at Ben Thanh are crowded before the Lunar New Year, and one of them gets 20 customers, mostly Malaysian, in less than 20 minutes.
The shop owner, Ly Thi Tuyet Mai, said many Malaysian visitors bought hundreds of pieces of cloth each time to sell back home.
This has seen her sales shoot up by 70 percent from four months ago.
She does not only sell cloth but also makes dresses and delivers them at the hotel.
Mai said sometimes she gets orders for 70-80 dresses a day.
Vo Thi Kim Trang, another shop owner at the market, said 90 percent of Malaysian visitors seem to like Vietnamese cloth.
She quoted them as saying Chinese cloth is rough and hot, while Vietnamese is soft and has embroidered flowers and beads.
A Brunei tourist at a nearby footwear shop said she has been to Vietnam three times this year and to Ben Thanh every time to buy souvenirs, usually slippers, for people back home.
The shop owner said business is normally good during year end when hundreds of pairs of slippers are bought every day, more than 70 percent by Southeast Asians.
Handicrafts on the other hand attract mostly European tourists.
Business is normally up 70 percent during year end and shops deliver them at the airport for orders of more than 50 pieces.
Duong Thi Mai Lan, a manager of Ben Thanh market, said 90 percent of customers are foreign tourists and 70 percent of the items sold there regularly get big orders.
Miss Bee shop on Dong Khoi Street nearby sells handicrafts, footwear, clothes, and bags with hand-made decorations.
The owner, Dang My Van, said her prices are reasonable.
Her customers are mostly Japanese and South Korean tourists and some of them make large orders every two or three months. The latest one was for $20,000 worth hand-embroidered bags by a Korean customer who had bought one.
She said many shops used to sell Chinese products, but have switched to Vietnamese to ensure quality.
"All my products are made in Vietnam and, in many stages, by hand."
She said the shop sells popular products at cheaper prices than at markets, but survives by also selling high-end products like hand-beaded slippers that sell for around VND450,000 ($21), grass bags for VND450,000-670,000, and some intricately embroidered bags for as much as VND4 million.
Figures from the city tourism department show that tourism revenues in December increased by more than 15 percent last year to VND18 trillion ($854 million).
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