Ho Chi Minh City has lost its charm for Japanese travelers, a tourism official said last week during the city's annual International Tourism Fair.
Few are returning from the island that serves as Vietnam's largest feeder market behind China, said Tadashi Yamaguchi, deputy head of the outbound sector of Japan Association of Travel Agents last Thursday.
The city needs to consider reducing prices and cooperating with beach resorts to create mulit-destination packages to draw new visitors, Yamaguchi said.
He said that while the city remains Vietnam’s top attraction for Japanese visitors, it lacks diverse tourism products, according to news website Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon Online.
The popular HCMC-Siem Reap tour has lost charm and the elderly, its main segment, have not signed up again, the news site quoted him as saying.
Dananjaya Axioma, director of the Tourism and Exchange Division of Asean-Japan Center, said many Vietnamese firms have assumed that Japanese tourists love shopping, but they in fact prefer sightseeing and visiting historical sites.
Yamaguchi said that if the city wants to woo more Japanese visitors and keep them coming back, it should collaborate with resorts in the south-central town of Phan Thiet or with destinations in the Mekong Delta or popular islands like Phu Quoc or Con Dao.
He urged the city to cooperate with the central region, which will soon draw scores of Japanese thanks to a large number of flights that opened between the central city of Da Nang and Japan in July.
A central resort town could add a nice extension to the HCMC experience, he suggested.
HCMC receives more than 300,000 Japanese arrivals a year.
The city's travel agencies have run advertising campaigns in Japan and invited Japanese travel partners over regularly.
Yamaguchi said the tourism industry should focus their strategies on Japan's elderly and female travelers, who make up the bulk of arrivals.
Around three million elderly Japanese and 4.8 million Japanese women traveled abroad last year, he said, adding that the figure is rising, especially among women between 20 and 40.
He said Japanese tourism firms are offering mother-and-daughter as well as all-female packages that local companies can check out.
He suggested that Vietnamese companies advertise their tours through magazines or websites that cater mostly to women.