Russian tourists stroll through Mui Ne in the central province of Binh Thuan. PHOTO COURTESY OF TUOI TRE
Once dubbed “Vietnam’s Moscow” due to a predominance of Russian tourists, the central beach town of Mui Ne in Binh Thuan Province may lose out this year to other destinations with easier accesses.
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted the Binh Thuan Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism as saying on Sunday that it welcomed 61,000 Russian tourists this year, up 22 percent year-on-year, but the number of tourists has steadily decreased since the beginning of this year.
Last month 12,634 Russians visited the province, down 28 percent from January, the department reported.
Nguyen Duc Tan, director of Focus Travel Company, one of the three main tour operators catering to the Russian market, blamed the decline on a switch to Nha Trang in the central province of Khanh Hoa and Phu Quoc Island off the coast of the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang.
Russian tourists can now access the two new destinations via direct charter flights, while to reach Mui Ne, they must take a five hour bus ride from Ho Chi Minh City, after spending more than 10 hours on a plane, Tan explained.
“So, Mui Ne is no longer a top choice,” he said.
Hoang Thi Phong Thu, a representative from the Turkish-owned Pegas Touristik Company, which brought over 54 percent of Russian tourists to Vietnam last year, was quoted as saying that her company plans to shift away from Mui Ne this year to focus on Nha Trang and Phu Quoc due to their convenience.
According to Khanh Hoa’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, big travel companies targeting the Russian market, including Focus Travel and Pegas, planned to bring some 180,000 Russian tourists to Nha Trang this year, nearly doubling last year’s number of arrivals.
Ngo Minh Chinh, director of Binh Thuan’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, told Tuoi Tre that with changes in Pegas’ business plan, local tourism authorities will send a delegation to Russia this September to seek new partners that are interested in bringing Russian tourists to Mui Ne.
Meanwhile, Nguyen Van Khoa, chairman of the Binh Thuan Tourism Association, said local travel companies will have to be more active in seeking out new markets.
Travel businesses, resorts and hotels will also have to adjust their services to cater to other tourists instead of providing them with what was customized for Russians, he said.
In fact, Director Tran Anh Thi of The Sailing Bay Resort in Mui Ne, said many businesses will find the adjustment difficult, given that many in town spent the last three or four years perfecting their cyrillic signage and menus.
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