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Vietnam and Sri Lanka tour operators focus on tourism promotion.

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 ( 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


     By Dr Srimal Fernando Asia Correspondent
Vietnam is one of the most fascinating countries in South East Asia. It is a country on the move with a rapid growth of 5 percent  (estimates 2012). The country has a population of 91.5 million (estimates 2011) with a wealth of dialects spoken in different regions. The people of the country have a well-deserved reputation for being hard workers. Today the largely agrarian society of the country is shifting towards a more multi-sector economy after a robust growth in the past 20 years. The country has made significant headway into the international market in recent years.
The agricultural sector continues to employ a significant proportion of the labor force and the balance is represented by the service and industry sector. Since the mid 90’s, export growth continues to be the driving force behind the robust economy of the country. In the first seven months of 2012 the turnover of the country’s exports were estimated at 62.9 billion dollars. The number of foreign companies investing in the country has been increasing steadily and has a unified exchange rate for foreign currencies, which floats in response to the basic exchange market development. At present one dollar can purchase  almost 20,000 Vietnamese don in local currency.
Figures from the Ministry of Planning and Investment show that donors had pledged a total assistance of 71.8 billion dollars from 1993 to 2011. Vietnam has a large agricultural sector and is a net exporter of farming products. It is the second largest rice and coffee producer in the world.  
The burgeoning high-end industries based at the Export Processing Zones in Hanoi, Hue Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duongand Dong Nai yield many opportunities for investors. Exports of garments and textiles are one of the main sources of foreign exchange income for Vietnam. In the first seven months of 2012 the value of apparel exports stood at 8.2 billion dollars.  Despite having many active players, the telephone parts manufacturing industry in Vietnam had an approximate market value of 6.2 billion dollars in the first half of the year. The other major industries in the country are crude oil, steel, seafoods, wood product, rubber, machinery, electronic equipment, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and mineral fuels. Vietnam has also positioned itself as a key destination for operation of multinational companies in a variety of industries. In the recent years, the country has successfully attracted many big names and reputed global companies such as Nippon, Hitachi, Isuzu, Samsung, KFC, Toshiba, Canon, Toyota, Honda, Petronas and Lotte Mart.
Moreover, the fast growing tourism sector is another major pillar in the overall economic field of the country. Vietnam is emerging as a strong tourist destination with number of visitors to the country climbing to 6.0 million in 2011. Traveling to the country can be done in different ways. However the experience that a visitor gains is unforgettable. The country is home to a wide range of domestic and international airports. Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport, Danang and Tan Son Nhat Airport of Ho Chi Minh City are the major stopover points for many international airlines. These  aviation hubs serve as a base to Vietnam Airlines, the flag carrier of the country. Tourists visiting this beautiful country will find that things they can see and do are limitless.  Hanoi known as “city of lakes”  the capital  of the country is today one of the most charismatic and cosmopolitan cities in Vietnam. It is a thriving metropolis with cloud-tickling skyscrapers, numerous specialty shops, boutiques and colorful markets that unhesitatingly leap into the future .
The name of the iconic leader Ho Chi Minh comes to mind when we remember the recent history of the country. The Ho Chi Minh mausoleum is a marble edifice with his remains displayed inside the chamber. This mausoleum was built to show the deep gratitude by the countrymen to their leader. It is the most recognizable tourist spots in Hanoi that attracts thousands of visitors every day.  
Visitors are charmed by the city which gracefully combines eras and cultures . A visit to the country would remain incomplete if one doesn’t drive the 3½-hour journey on road from Hanoi to Halong Bay port. The UNESCO world Heritage site Halong (or "Descending Dragon) Bay is situated amidst a splendid panorama. The bay covers an area of 1500-square-kilometres dotted with a cluster of 1960 lime stone islands. A double deck wooden boat cruise in the bluish green waters can be an enjoyable journey. One can make a leap to the south most important city; the Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon situated 1760 kilometers south of Hanoi. It is a beautiful cosmopolitan town  with  paved walk paths, 19th century buildings besides sprawling complexes that show the development fever in the country. Among its highest-esteemed attractions are the Notre Dame Cathedral, Municipal Theater, the re-unification palace and the Vietnam War Memorial Museum. Every year millions of tourist visit the noteworthy towns of Hoi An, Dalath, Hue and Danang to marvel at its exquisite beauty. Shopping is undoubtedly an attraction in the country.  The choices and variety for items here is incalculable.
On the development side, Vietnam’s transport system has already achieved measurable improvements. The country has launched several highway projects to bolster the 222,179 kilometers of road system. Out of this about 25 percent of highways are paved. Having doubled in length in recent years, multi-lane expressways now connects several major cities with more construction planned to upgrade the paved highways. To boost the state highway system the country plans to spend 14 billon dollars in the coming years.
As one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, Vietnam has prospects to position itself towards economic prosperity. Vietnam remains one of the most important trading partners in the globe. The county has opened up a host of opportunities for investors to tap the rapidly expanding local and regional markets.


January/February 2020










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