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Travel firms, airlines, local authorities seeking to attract Japanese travelers

posted Sep 7, 2011, 8:50 PM by Dong Travel   [ updated Sep 7, 2011, 9:00 PM by Mickey Dong Hoang Thinh ]
Vietnamese travel firms now move ahead with the plans to attract more Japanese travelers to Vietnam, after they can see the signs of recovery from the market which was once seriously affected by the catastrophes.

According to Nguyen Van Tran, General Director of APEX travel firm, specializing in the Japanese travel market, the number of Japanese travelers to Vietnam once dropped significantly earlier this year, just several months after the catastrophes took place. However, the number of Japanese travelers to Vietnam has increased again since July. Tran has reported the 20 percent increase in the number of Japanese travelers in comparison with the same period of 2010.

In general, Japanese travelers can get the visas for staying in Vietnam for 15 days. However, Tran believes that 15 days is not long enough and cannot meet the demand in the new circumstances, when Vietnam has become the places, where travelers transit before traveling to other South East Asian countries.

Therefore, APEX has proposed the government to extend the visa validity for Japanese travelers to 30 or 60 days. Statistics show that Japanese travelers stay in Vietnam for 7-10 days on average.

Prior to that, on July 24, representatives of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) and the national flag air carrier Vietnam Airlines left Hanoi for a five day trip to Japan, where they planned to meet some partners and travel firms in an effort to attract more Japanese travelers to Vietnam in the post-catastrophe period.

VNAT’s Deputy General Director, Hoang Thi Diep, said that the number of Japanese travelers flying with Vietnam Airlines decreased by tens of percent after the tsunami and earthquake in March 2011. Therefore, the national flag air carrier has decided to join forces with VNAT to revive the Japanese market.

A workshop was held in Hoi An ancient town just several days ago to discuss how to attract Japanese travelers.

Hoi An, which has great potentials and opportunities to attract Japanese travelers, has not been satisfactory with the number of Japanese travelers to the ancient town.

In fact, Japan always ranked the sixth among the 10 top markets for Hoi An in 2006-2010. However, the number of Japanese travelers staying in Hoi An was always much lower than the numbers of travelers from other markets in the top 10. Japanese travelers just account for five percent of the total foreign travelers, while the number of Japanese travelers never exceeded 20,000 a year.

However, Vietnamese travel firms still keep optimistic about the potential market. Nguyen Son Thuy, Business Director of the Hoi An Tourism and Service Company has quoted the statistics by the General Statistics Office, as saying that the number of Japanese travelers in the first seven months of 2011 increased by 11.7 percent over the same period of the last year.

According to travel firms, Japanese travelers always go in groups and mostly book tours with prestigious travel firms. In most of cases, the groups of travelers go together with the tour guides speaking Japanese. Japanese travelers like local specialty food, ecological and cultural tours, and like to join cultural exchange with local residents.

According to Fukui Yuta, an expert from JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), 15 million Japanese travel abroad a year, and 3.5 million of the travelers go to South East Asia. However, Vietnam just ranks the 16th among the destinations of Japanese tourists.

He went on to say that if Hoi An can provide high quality services and products which reflect the special characteristics of the area, it would be successful to attract Japanese tourists.

“Please preserve the character of the local culture, upgrade the quality of services and diversify products, and Hoi An will surely become the attractive destination to Japanese, or any foreign travelers in the world,” he said.

The Hoi An’s authorities have also been urged to step up the teaching of Japanese language at local schools, which will help provide more staff who can speak Japanese and serve Japanese travelers.

Source: VNN