Hanoi Redtour deputy general director, Nguyen Cong Hoan, said the economic crisis in major markets like the United States and Europe was hurting tourist arrivals, but the situation was not helped by high prices and poor tourism promotions.

“The global economic slowdown has forced people to reduce spending especially for travel,” he said noting the downturn was hurting Vietnam’s tourism industry more seriously than the declines in 2008 to 2009.

He added that although hotel rates in Vietnam are down when compared to a few years ago, they are still higher than other Southeast Asian countries.

“For example, customers pay US$100 to US$200 for a luxury room in Hanoi, while a similar room in Bangkok costs only US$80 to US$90.”

Food, spa services and transport also cost 20% to 30% more than in Thailand and Indonesia, he said.

“Also hotels and restaurants, transport, tourist guides, and entertainment options are not good enough to attract quality tourists.”

Ha Long Bay, recognised as a world heritage site, has a poor reputation for safety after a spate of boat accidents, he noted.

“Several heritage sites in the central Quang Binh province are very attractive, but there is not a single quality hotel apart from the Sun Spa Resort.”

Mr Hoan outlined the country’s challenges:

• High prices of tour programmes due to transport operators, hotels and restaurants, and travel agents failing to work together;

• Monotonous tourism products because promotion steering committees do not know what foreign visitors really want;

• Poor marketing;

• Tourism community cannot provide products information to tourists in a timely and accurate fashion.

By Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit - TTR Weekly - November 8, 2012