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Vietnamese travel firms working for foreigners on home market


The number of foreign tourists to Vietnam has been increasing steadily in recent years. The number of Chinese tourists increased by 57 percent, while Cambodian by 66 percent last year, according to In the first seven months of 2012, Vietnam received 773,000 Chinese, 421,000 South Korean, 329,000 Japanese travelers.

However, the high number of foreign travelers to Vietnam does not always means the high income for Vietnamese travel firms and service providers.

The problem is that Vietnamese travel firms, including the most well-known ones, cannot directly serve the travelers from the potential markets.

The director of a big travel firm in HCM City admitted that the firm cannot receive Taiwanese, Cambodia, Chinese and South Korean for the last few years. Meanwhile, the number of Japanese travelers the firm receives has been decreasing year after year.

In the past, it received 2000 Japanese travelers a year, while it served only 800 travelers in the first seven months of the year.

“Like many other Vietnamese travel firms, we cannot penetrate the potential markets,” the director said.

Vietravel, a firm considered as having high numbers of inbound tourists, reportedly received 1000 Taiwanese, 5000 South Korean and 14,000 Chinese travelers in the first half of 2012 – the very modest figures if compared with the figures for every market announced by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).

Tran Van Long, Director of Du Lich Viet travel firm, said his branch in Hanoi receives Chinese travelers, but just a little, while most of the travelers come to Vietnam by air. No information about the other markets such as Japanese, South Korean, Taiwanese or Cambodia in the report of the company.Some Vietnamese travel firms announce that they get South Korean, Japanese or Chinese travelers. However, in fact, they simply “sell the right to receive tourists” to get commissions, while they do not directly serve the travelers.

In fact, the tour operation is undertaken absolutely by foreign firms, and foreign tourist guides serve foreign travelers. Meanwhile, Vietnamese travel firms only provide services… on paper.

Where does the money go?

Thanh Nien has quoted Pham Trung Luong, Deputy Head of the Vietnam Research Institute for Tourism Development as saying that in many cases, foreign travel firms undertake all kinds of services, from collecting clients, bringing tourists to Vietnam, providing foreign tour guides and other services.

Luong said since Vietnamese travel firms can only undertake minor jobs; they can only get very modest profit shares.

The director of a Vietnamese travel firm, who asked to be anonymous, said that in many cases, foreigners set up travel firms in Vietnam under the names of their Vietnamese relatives, which allows them to provide all kinds of services.

Phan Dinh Hue, Director of Vong Tron Viet travel firm, said when cooperating with foreign travel firms to bring Vietnamese tourists abroad, Vietnamese travel firms only undertake 20 percent of the total workload.

For example, travel firms just book tickets, carry tourists to the airport. Meanwhile, the Thai partners would undertake all the other works in the Thai territory, including hotel, meal, and transport services.

A foreign expert has warned that foreign travel firms have been more and more deeply “thrusting their hands” into the Vietnamese market, while Vietnam’s reactions remain too weak. It may happen that Vietnamese travel firms would have to work as hired workers on their home market, and lend a hand to foreigners to enrich on their resources.

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