The tourism industry should eliminate “zero dollar tours” and focus on improving the quality of services as Chinese visitors prepare to return after three years, experts said.
Vu The Binh, chairman of Vietnam Tourism Association, said at a conference on Monday that Vietnam should “play a new game” with Chinese tourists, who were the biggest feeder market before the pandemic struck.
Binh said dodgy tour packages called “zero-dollar tours,” Chinese tour scams and business fraud were the biggest challenges the tourism industry faced at the time of a spike in Chinese tourism prior to the Covid outbreak.
At that time, many Chinese tourists arrived in Vietnam through “zero dong tours” organized by Chinese travel companies, in which Chinese visitors would stay at Chinese-run hotels, eat at Chinese restaurants, and shop at Chinese shopping outlets. They also used Chinese tour guides instead of local ones.
Experts say Vietnam’s tourism industry needs to find solutions to ensure sustainable business with this important market.
“Chinese people are not poor,” Binh said. “They have a high demand for enjoying luxury tourism services. It is necessary to provide high-end tourism services for Chinese tourists like we have already offered Americans, Japanese, and Western Europeans to increase their spending.”
Nguyen Quang Thang, director of a travel agency in central beach town Nha Trang, said businesses that organize cheap and illegal tours to evade taxes must be eliminated.
Nguyen Xuan Binh, deputy director of Da Nang’s Department of Tourism, said that it is necessary to focus on quality products and restructure the management of destinations.
“Our tourist attractions, accommodation facilities, human resources and tourism services must be renewed and strictly managed with better quality,” he said.
Binh added that after a three-year hiatus in welcoming Chinese tourists due to the Covid lockdown, everything has returned to normal, providing Vietnam with an opportunity to restructure the Chinese tourism market.
Nguyen Trung Khanh, head of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said there should be more tourism promotion campaigns on China’s popular social media platforms such as Weibo, Douyin and Xigua to promote Vietnam’s popular tourist hotspots.
China was Vietnam’s biggest source of tourists prior to the pandemic, sending nearly 5.8 million people in 2019.
Vietnam last year only received 3.6 million foreign tourists, or 70% of the country’s target. It has set a target of eight million foreign tourists for this year, with China’s reopening kindling hope.
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