By Dr Srimal Fernando, Asia Correspondent
Travel and tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in Vietnam. It is a major pillar in the overall economic field of the country. Tourism in Vietnam has become a major industry generating wealth and employment opening the minds of both visitors and residents to different ways of life.
The expansion of tourism in Vietnam continues to achieve spectacular gains. Tour operators forecast that tourist arrivals to the country are likely to exceed 6.5 million visitors this year (2012).
Currently China, Korea, Japan and the United States are the top four income generating markets for the tourism industry in Vietnam. The country made the optimum out of almost 13,000 hotels with a capacity of 265,000 rooms in 2011 (estimates). The bilateral ties growing between Vietnam and Sri Lanka have opened up a host of opportunities for Vietnamese travel companies to tap the rapidly expanding Sri Lankan tourism market and for Sri Lankan travel and tour operators to promote itself aggressively in Vietnam.
The Embassy of Vietnam in Colombo chose 15 leading travel agents from Sri Lanka to tour Vietnam in an eleven -day familiarization trip to Vietnam in August. The focus of the familiarization tour to Vietnam by the leading Sri Lankan travel agents was to increasing awareness about the destinations and increase connectivity. The inbound and outbound tour operators Hanoi Toserco, a state-run travel service company and Fidi Tour a large travel and leisure service company based in South Vietnam supported the familiarization tour at local level for the visiting travel agents from Sri Lanka.
The visiting delegation at Hanoi Tosco office
The Sri Lankan delegation was headed by Deputy Head of the Vietnam Embassy in Colombo Phung Trong Tuan and Roland Gunesekara head of Sri Lanka's Safeway Travels. The travel agents from Sri Lanka visited Vietnam's capital Hanoi, Halong Bay, Danang in Central Vietnam, Hoi An and Hue the ancient cities, and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in South Vietnam.
Ms Nguyen .T Phuong
General Director, Hanoi Toserco,
During the first leg of the tour the delegation visited the Hanoi Toserco, head office in the capital city. General Director Nguyen .T Phuong welcoming the guest at the Hanoi Toserco head office remarked “The dream of bringing Sri Lankan travel agents to Vietnam became a reality by this visit” . Ms .Nguyen also said that “This group will be the bridge that will connect the Sri Lankan people with Vietnam”.
Mr Le Huu Minh,
Vice Director, Department of Tourism, Hue
On a visit to Hue the ancient city in central Vietnam the visiting delegation had an interactive dialogue with the officials and Vice Director Culture, Sports and Tourism Department of Thien Hue Province. Le Huu Minh the Vice Director said, “Hue has significant historical importance”. It is known as the festival city famous for 300 festivals with annual participation of local and international art groups visiting Hue”.
The travel agents had a fantastic experience in travelling from Danang in central Vietnam to South Vietnam beauty spot Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) or Saigon. The delegation had the opportunity to see some esteemed attractions in this cosmopolitan city followed by a visit to Củ Chi tunnels and a boat cruise on the Mekong River organised by the Fidi Tour Company based in South Vietnam. Mr.Le PhongTran the Director of in bound tour department of FIDI.Tour Company said that they want to tap new emerging tourist markets such as Sri Lanka.” We believe that we have a lot to offer to Sri Lankan travelers”. He also said “we are working hard with leading tour operators in Sri Lanka to promote Vietnam as a tourist destination. Sri Lankan and Vietnamese tour operators are looking to promote aggressively targeting to achieve a significant number of Sri Lankan tour groups visiting Vietnam in the next few years.
Vietnam is exploring new tourism markets in the world. –Director –FIDI Tours- Ho Chi Minh City.
Mr. Le Phong Tran,
Director FIDI Tours
Vietnam offers a unique travel product that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. When travelling to Vietnam it is important to find trusted, high quality travel agents that provide personalized services to the clients visiting the country. FIDI Tours (www.fiditour.vn) a large travel and leisure service company based in South Vietnam offers clients an excellent travel experience in Vietnam. Dr Srimal Fernando, Asia Correspondent for Foreign Exchange Diplomatic Society had an exclusive discussion with Mr. Le Phong Tran, the Director of In Bound Tour Department of FIDI tours at the Oscar Saigon Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Srimal Fernando (SF): First of all could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Director: I am from the Mekong Delta area of Vietnam. Academically I am a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree holder in English from the Ho Chi Minh City University. Currently I am studying for my Master of Business Administration (MBA). After completion of my bachelors in 1993, I worked as a Teacher and moved on to the travel industry in1995. In that year I joined FIDI tours and changed my profession in to Administration at FIDI tours by 2005. Today I am engaged in product development and in marketing as their Director of In bound tour operations.
(SF) Can you tell me in brief about FIDI Tours Vietnam?
Director: FIDI tours of Vietnam was established in the year 1989. Our company head office is located in front of Oscar Saigon Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City. Mr Nquyen Vut Hung is the current General Director of FIDI tours Vietnam. Real Estate, Hotel, restaurants and education are the other areas the company engages in other than travel. If one plans to visit Vietnam we place our client’s mind at ease with our 24-hour local support. As one of the leading tour operator in our country each and every package we offer is tailored to meet exact client requirements. Vietnam is exploring new tourist markets in the world. FIDI tours of Vietnam are working very strongly towards supporting this.
(SF) Can you share with us the number of international tourist visitors handled by FIDI tours annually? What is your target for the next few years?
Director : Annually FIDI tours handles about 25,000 international tourists visiting the country. Our future target is to handle 50,000 international visitors annually for the next few years.
(SF) Which are the main destinations you are looking to promote in Vietnam?
Director: Vietnam is popular among European travelers. FIDI tours are trying to find new markets. Among these newly emerging markets Sri Lanka is a priority. Initially we plan to handle about1000 Sri Lankan tourist per year.
(SF) Is there anything that you would like to add?
Director: Last year I visited as representative of FIDI tours on a FAM trip to South Africa. We are also planning to visit Turkey. Our expectation from Sri Lankan tour operators is high as we begin to explore new tourism markets.
Vietnam - the Rising Economic Force in Asia