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Discount card for tourists issued in 200 locations

 The TouristCard, a promotion card for tourists, has been introduced at 200 locations in six cities and provinces nationwide.

Discount card for tourists issued in 200 locations

The TouristCard, a promotion card for tourists, has been introduced at 200 locations in six cities and provinces nationwide.

Card bearers can avail of discounts ranging between 10 to 50% for services at specified hotels, restaurants and resorts in Hanoi, HCM City, Danang, Khanh Hoa, Quang Tri and Quang Binh.

According to Skylight Media, international joint stock company, which has issued the card, over 3,000 cards are available with agents nationwide at a price of VND 90,000 (US$4.3) each.

The card, which is similar to an ATM card, will provide all information about tourism services and online payments.

The Danang-based Skylight Media company will tie up with banks to develop the cards as a credit card.

Vietnam to host international tourism fair

As many as 450 domestic and international tourism companies will attend an international tourism fair at Hanoi’s Vietnam Exhibition Fair Centre from April 3–6.

Jointly organised by the Vietnam Tourism Association, the General Department of Tourism, and the Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Vietnam International Travel Mart (VITM 2014), the second of its kind, is expected to welcome 50,000 attendees.

The fair will be themed around “Tourism Promotion – New Destination, New Opportunity, and Travelling for Sustainable Development”. It covers domestic as well as inbound and outbound international tourism .

A series of art performances and tourism seminars will also be held during the event.

Vu The Binh, Deputy Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said the fair provides space to promote new Vietnamese travel destinations in the Northwest, Northeast, Mekong Delta, and Central Highlands.

Vietnam commits to Mekong sub-region development

Cooperation for sustainable development in the greater Mekong sub-region (GMS) is one of the Vietnamese Government‘s top priorities-a key cooperation area between Vietnam and the US as well as in the framework of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI).

Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Nguyen Quoc Cuong made the statement at a Washington DC forum on global measures for new technology application on January 15.

He said GMS, a key rice and aquatic product supplier of GMS countries and the world, is being seriously threatened by climate change, rising sea levels, and improper use of water resources upstream and downstream.

To ensure sustainable development in the region, the diplomat called on US enterprises, organizations and universities to join hand in conducting research and human resource training projects through the public-private partnership model.

He suggested the designated agencies share data and experience, and transfer technology related to weather tolerance and high yielding crop varieties, human and animal vaccines, clean energy, and climate change adaptation and environmental protection programmes through green agricultural development.

Cuong was one of the keynote speakers at the forum organized by P80 Group Foundation which was founded by former heads of more than 90 states, including former US President Bill Clinton.

Vietnamese tourists favor Japan trips

Japan estimated to welcome around 80,000 Vietnamese travelers in 2013, up by a staggering rate of over 50% against 2012, while the number of Japanese tourists to Vietnam was the third largest last year, said the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO).

Speaking at the tourism promotion seminar in Hanoi City on Wednesday, Vu The Binh, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said that Japan has become an attractive destination for Vietnamese holiday-makers due to tourism promotion policies. Meanwhile, Japan has also become one of nations with biggest tourist numbers to Vietnam over the past years.

The association has plans to establish a Japan outbound club, grouping 25 leading travel firms to design Japan tours for Vietnamese guests. The association will also inaugurate a tourism representative office in Japan, the first overseas travel office of Vietnam.

With practical actions, it is expected that around one million Japanese travelers will visit Vietnam and 200,000 Vietnamese tourists will visit Japan in 2015 as targeted by the two nations, Binh said.

Tour operators said Japan has become attractive to Vietnamese tourists thanks to spiritual tourism.

Mai Xuan Hong, general director of Hop Nhat Tourism Joint Stock Company, said that although Japan was not its main market, the enterprise sent around five groups with 15 to 60 Buddhists each to Japan in 2013. The trips of seven days and six nights were around US$2,500-3,000 each.

However, Hong said visa procedures are a big challenge for local vacationers.

Nguyen Van Hieu, deputy head of market department of Vietnamtourism Company, said that it was very difficult to get a tourism visa to Japan in previous years. However, it is easier now as the nations have strengthened relationship to speed up economic cooperation.

Last year, Vietnamtourism sent around 20 delegations with over 300 Vietnamese guests to Japan.

While traditional markets such as China, Malaysia and Thailand have reached saturation point, South Korea and Japan have become competitive markets in terms of prices. This year, the enterprise aims to raise the number of tourists to the two nations by 20-25% against 2013, Hieu added.

Saigontourist welcomes half a million visitors in 2013

Saigontourist Travel Service Company catered to 480,000 visitors in 2013, rising nearly 10% from the previous year, said Saigontourist general director Vo Anh Tai at a customer gratitude party at the Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers on Wednesday

Despite the 10% surge in the number of visitors, Saigontourists last year saw its revenue jumping 29% year-on-year while its return on equity (ROE) amounted to over 120% given robust growth in the number of high-class tour buyers.

According to Tai, 2013 marked the best performance of Saigontourist in the firm’s business history. Saigontourist obtained total revenue of more than VND2.7 trillion from the travel segment, growing 29% year-on-year, with domestic, inbound and outbound services sales all posting strong growth despite the economic distress in 2013.

The strong growth in sales of high-class tourism products and costly tours to long-haul destinations including MICE tours (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) has made a great contribution to the firm’s staggering revenue increase.

“Many groups of customers had taken tours to explore business opportunities in the Middle East, Southern and Northern America with total expenses of VND80 million to more than VND100 million a person. Accounting for up to 19% of the total number of long-haul tour buyers, these customers contributed to raising our revenue considerably,” said Doan Thi Thanh Tra, marketing and public relations manager of the leading travel firm.

Besides, expanding the market to many localities instead of only focusing on big cities like Hanoi, HCMC and Danang has also helped Saigontourist attract more individual clients with high incomes along with other economic tour buyers in these areas, Tra added.

Saigontourist last year opened and upgraded a series of its branches and offices nationwide in Can Tho, Danang, Hanoi, Tien Giang and Nha Trang among others.

Hotels, restaurants take advantage of year-end parties

To celebrate the year-end and lunar New Year holidays, restaurants and hotels offered and are still offering numerous attractive gastronomic programs but the number of clients booking large-scale parties has diminished.

However, in high-profile and luxury hotels, food programs with entertainment shows priced at a few million dong still lured a lot of customers to countdown to 2014.

On New Year’s Eve, most of the swanky hotels in downtown HCMC, especially the ones where visitors could admire the fireworks display, were full to the brim.

The five-star Rex Hotel had a record number of guests, up to 1,000 diners, enjoying food, admiring entertainment shows and the fireworks display with tickets priced at nearly VND3 million per person.

Other hotels revealed they pocketed more than VND1 billion on dining services on the last day of 2013 and are now preparing fascinating programs for Tet.

Year-end season is the most popular time of the year for dining services of hotels and restaurants, so many of them had to map out programs two months in advance.

Guests who splashed out on entertainment and accompanied food programs costing  millions of dong per ticket were foreigners and locals alike.

They did not celebrate alone, though, but enjoyed with family and friends. This factor lifted up revenue on dining services at hotels during the occasions of Christmas and New Year.

“The proceeds from the dining service on New Year’s Eve seized 60% of the total revenue. From now until Tet, we are going to get busier serving guests interesting meals for weddings and Lunar New Year celebrations,” said Nguyen Anh Vu, general director of the five-star Majestic Hotel.

However, the joy has not spread throughout the industry with many smaller restaurants suffering from revenue and lack of large-scale parties.

Currently, Binh Quoi I and II and Saigon Ship Restaurant are welcoming orders on a daily basis but the volume of diners has fallen 30% and restaurants don’t have many large parties. “The reduction is in both the volume of guests and value of the parties. We try to offer more promotions to attract more families and passers-by but have not gained much attention,” said Chiem Thanh Long, director of Binh Quoi Tourist Village.

Large-scale companies this year have not been hosting large parties freeing up space for smaller companies.



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