Tourism marketing: It’s time to change

According to data from the General Statistics Office, after more than four months of resuming the international tourism segment, the number of foreign visitors to Vietnam has grown dramatically, from nearly 91,000 arrivals in the first quarter of 2022 to 954,600 at the end of July.

However, the contribution of international tourists to Vietnam’s total tourist revenue still decreased by 90.3% compared to the same period in 2019 before the Covid-19 epidemic. Many businessmen in the industry said that there are not many positive signals about the business season by the end of this year, and the tourism industry’s goal of welcoming 5 million international visitors in 2022 is difficult to achieve.

What has kept the number of foreign visitors to Vietnam still not much even though the destination opened quite early, with the health control policy considered to be open? Setting aside the reasons that have been mentioned many times, such as major markets such as Japan, China still strictly control the epidemic, the loss of the Russian market due to war, high airfares, etc., we talk about a major bottleneck: the lack of marketing activities.

Since the resumption of international tourism in mid-March until now, the number of programs promoting Vietnam’s tourism abroad is still small and largely due to the initiative of tourism and aviation businesses. In which, companies such as Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, Saigontourist Group, Thien Minh, Indochina Unique Tourist, HG Group have organized many programs in the US, Japan, Thailand, India… The silhouette of the national tourism management agency in organizing programs to promote destinations and connect domestic and foreign businesses is still faint. This is different from the way many foreign tourism promotion agencies are doing in the Vietnamese market.

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Currently, more and more representatives of foreign tourism promotion agencies come to work directly at Vietnamese enterprises. In which, the representatives of the destination that have not yet fully opened came to greet and remind the estimated time of opening. Those at the destination that have opened their doors, visit to update tourism and medical information for partners to easily make tours and also invite them to visit the service in person. Some agencies also directly ask questions to send guests with accompanying expenses to help Vietnamese businesses sell tours.

While in Vietnam, a number of foreign destination promotion agencies said that they still use marketing and tourist attraction policies implemented before the Covid-19 epidemic until now, such as making friends with businesses and agencies media, KOLs (influencers) of the host country and offer attractive tour sales policies.

When it comes to overseas marketing programs, including television and Internet promotions, the establishment of representative offices, and direct-to-business marketing programs, industry leaders still raise difficulties because “Where’s the money to do it?” For many years now, the advertising budget of 2 million USD/year of Vietnam’s tourism is often compared to find it too meager with the number of up to tens of millions of dollars of Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia or Korea.

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With little money, the marketing effectiveness will be difficult to be high, but suppose, if there is a large source of funding, will the tourism promotion agency dare to try to “play big” once to completely change the way of marketing? Do the authorities dare to open tourism representative offices in key markets with a clear commitment to spending money and the growth rate of the market like many destinations are doing? Is it possible to select several target markets to spend money on in order to target the target customer segments to attract and the business group that can send visitors?

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I think, if you dare to change like that, it is not too difficult to call on businesses to contribute or raise money from the budget. In fact, in recent years, a number of large tourism businesses have contributed up to several tens of billions of dong to carry out general marketing activities for the whole destination. From this year, the tourism industry also has a tourism development support fund with a charter capital of 300 billion VND, which is allocated by the central budget in the first three years of establishment, and the revenue is 10% from the visa fee, 5% from the capital source collected from tourist destinations…

Therefore, this is the right time to remove old barriers to create a new and more effective way for tourism marketing.

@ Saigon Times

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