Country branding itself as reliable tourism destination

 Tourism-oriented countries all over the world are debating how best to bring back tourists as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic is controlled. Vietnam, which will be one of the first out the starting gate in tourism recovery, is focusing its strategy on emphasizing its safety as a local and international travel destination, substituting the “safe at home” mantra of the Covid-19 period with “safe in Vietnam”.

country branding itself as reliable tourism destination

Luring domestic visitors

Vietnam recorded a 98 percent plunge in the number of visitors this April compared to 2019 because of the coronavirus pandemic, but its success in fighting the virus, posting only 328 cases and no deaths, now sees it set to breathe life back into its tourism industry.

Vietnam will be one of the first Southeast Asian nations to start to revive its economy, but with a ban still in place on foreign visitors, and many of their major tourist markets under lockdown, hotels and resorts are discounting paradise to make it more attractive to local travelers.

Citing data from a survey by the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), TAB Chairman Tran Trong Kien said more than 50 percent of those surveyed are ready to go travelling again; most would choose safe tours with attractive promotions, which do not penalize buyers in case of tour changes or cancelations. Marine and nature discovery tours have become the first choice of those surveyed; the surveyed said they would prefer nearby destinations with their families or in a small group, and would book tours via digital platforms. These trends, while not new, can serve businesses and localities in preparing their tourism development plans and strategies, Kien said.

SaigonTourist Deputy General Director Vo Anh Tai said that since May, SaigonTourist has launched major promotions for domestic tours.

Vinpearl of Vietnam’s leading Vingroup conglomerate has rebranded its Vinpearl Land VinWonders, which opened on June 1 with different new, attractive services.

While tourism businesses are preparing to boost domestic tour sales with giant promotions, people in general still hesitate to travel to crowed destinations. The pandemic has been strongly affecting businesses in different industries including tourism, and those without aid or reserves are facing bankruptcy.

Safe destination

As one of the most efficient countries in the world in terms of pandemic control, Vietnam has huge potential to attract foreign visitors earlier than many other countries in Southeast Asia once the pandemic is controlled.

At a conference on solutions to attract domestic and foreign visitors after the pandemic, Christophe Lajus, Head of the Hospitality Division at BRG Group, said he was glad to see Vietnam becoming a safe destination for tourists, urging Vietnam to spread the word among visitors.

Sharing the same point of view, Craig Douglas, Executive Vice President of Lodgis Hospitality Holdings, said the world should know Vietnam as a safe destination, and Vietnam should launch appropriate marketing campaigns to promote itself as a safe destination as soon as possible.

One option being considered in Vietnam is to join a “travel bubble” with other countries that have successfully subdued the coronavirus.

Kenneth Atkinson, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board, said the first countries to target could be Australia and New Zealand, which are considering their own free-movement zone.

Airlines ready for foreign flights

Domestic tourism is on a post-lockdown agenda in Southeast Asia. In Vietnam, domestic tourism is now on the rise, with most Vietnamese airlines reporting that their limited domestic flights are fast reaching capacity.

Deputy CEO of Vietnam Airlines Trinh Hong Quang said the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) should urge relevant organizations to promote Vietnam as a safe destination for visitors. VNAT should encourage tourism businesses to introduce quality, attractive tourism products and service packages at reasonable prices.

A Vietjet airlines representative said the company could serve international tourism as soon as the government unlocks flights to foreign venues. Vietjet expects the foreign market lockdown would soon be lifted by those countries where pandemic control has been successful. Vietjet and other businesses are looking forward to seeing authorities’ visitor attraction orientations. SaigonTourist Deputy General Director Vo Anh Tai said businesses are looking forward to the “unlocking day” to start boosting tourism and trade exchanges.

Tran Dinh Thien, former Director of the Vietnam Economics Institute, said Vietnam would refresh its tourism industry rather than saving it, and a general development strategy is needed, apart from launching such promotions as price cut.

VNAT Director Nguyen Trung Khanh:

In order to recover, the tourism industry needs to promote connectivity among localities, travel agencies, and hotels.

Tourism businesses need to strengthen cooperation within and outside the industry, develop a safe operating

mechanism, and offer products and services at reasonable prices to attract foreign tour buyers, ensure operational

stability and avoid crises.

Bao Thoa