Vietnam needs to capitalize on newfound flow of Russian tourists

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Russian tourists stroll down a street in Khanh Hoa Province's Nha Trang Town.

The number of Russian tourists coming to Vietnam has surged recently, but insiders warn that the country needs to map out careful strategies to maximize profits over the long haul.

Russian tourists have been flocking to coastal destinations such as Binh Thuan Province, Ninh Thuan Province and Nha Trang Town in recent years, spending a lot of money, forcing local service providers to pay more attention to them, Sai Gon Tiep Thi (Saigon Marketing) newspaper reported Wednesday.

Nguyen Van My, chairman of Lua Viet Tours in Ho Chi Minh City, said many of the providers may have come to rely too heavily on Russian customers. 

"The number of Russian tourists has increased phenomenally, but the numbers will fall off eventually," he said, adding that the country needs careful, comprehensive strategies that will draw tourists from all over the world rather than sporadic, hastily conceived promotions aimed at attracting one particular group.

However, My said that the country needs to employ a variety of strategies to please the widest possible range of visitors. In order to maintain and increase the current flow of Russian vacationers to Vietnam, he said the country would be wise to establish hotels that cater specifically to them.   

The Sai Gon Tiep Thi survey found that many travel companies in HCMC believed that the increase of Russian tourists in recent years was not actually so remarkable, considering the fact that many more tourists still come to the country each year from Japan, South Korea and the US.

They said service providers, therefore, need to coordinate with one another to find ways to satisfy all types of customers rather than concentrate their efforts on any one demographic.

New destinations should be offered to meet the demands of various customers, they added.

Figures from the General Statistics Office showed that the number of Russian tourists in the first four months of this year increased by more than 50 percent, to 112,900, over the same period last year, despite a 5.3 percent decrease in the total number of foreign tourists.

More Russians than any other group of foreign tourists have visited Nha Trang over the last two years, with 100,000 going last year alone, according to statistics from the local tourism department.

Binh Thuan's official figures revealed that Russian tourists to the province in 2012 totaled 130,500, or 36.7 percent of its foreign visitors that year.

According to Sai Gon Tiep Thi, Russian tourists love to come to Vietnam, especially the south-central region, known for its beautiful beaches, friendly people, delicious food and wide variety of cheap services.

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