VietNamNet Bridge – The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism VNAT has spent a lot of money on tourism promotion campaigns. However, the costly programs prove to be unprofessional and ineffective.
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VNAT has suggested a mechanism on budgeting tourism promotion campaigns, under which one dollar earned from every traveler to Vietnam would be re-invested to advertise and promote Vietnam’s tourism in Vietnam and in foreign countries.
With the mechanism, the more foreign tourists to Vietnam, the higher budget for tourism promotion campaigns would be allocated. In 2011, for example, Vietnam received 6 million travelers, which means that Vietnam should reserve 6 million dollars (120 billion dong).
However, in reality, the budget for tourism promotion activities has been cut year after year. Nguyen Manh Cuong, VNAT’s Deputy General Director, said Thailand and Malaysia spend 80-100 million dollars a year to promote their tourism. Meanwhile, Vietnam would have only 2 million dollars this year for the activities.
In principle, the budget of 2 million dollars would be allocated to different agencies. It is estimated that 70 percent of the sum would be put under the management of VNAT, while 20 percent would go to the International Cooperation Agency, and the remaining to some small projects. The dispersing of the resources is believed to be not a good choice, because this would lead to the overlapping and low efficiency.
The limited budget is really a big barrier that hinders the advertisement and promotion activities. Though VNAT attends foreign trade fairs to promote Vietnam’s tourism, it lacks money to organize supporting events, such as press conferences, reception or visual promotion activities.
The representative of Sao Viet travel firm said that the lack of money makes the Vietnamese booth at trade fairs dim and unattractive. Meanwhile, some big travel firms and the national flag air carrier Vietnam Airlines, which are believed financially powerful, all have their own stalls and they refuse to display their products and services at the national tourism booth.
Cut your coat according to your cloth
Pham Trung Luong, Deputy Head of the Tourism Research and Development Institute, said it’s clear that the budget cuts would badly affect tourism promotion activities. However, as the budget cut proves to be unavoidable for now, it would be better to discuss about how to use the modest sum of money to promote tourism.
Luong said that while Vietnam lacks money, it still wastes money on the things which cannot bring effects. Travel firms have many times complained about the unprofessional way of the watchdog agencies in organizing the outbound trips to attend foreign trade fairs.
Vietnam once brought a lot of leaflets to a foreign trade fair to promote tourism. However, the leaflets were then left at the Vietnamese embassies in the countries.
There could be two reasons behind this. First, Vietnam brought to the trade fair the products which were not interested by travelers. And second, Vietnam did not choose the right way of doing marketing: while people try to search for tourism information on Internet, Vietnam only bring printed leaflets and brochures.
“One should not blame everything on the lack of money,” Luong said.
He believes that Vietnam needs to learn thoroughly about a market before it plans to penetrate the market. Opening representative offices in the foreign markets proves to be the best way to learn about the new markets. Besides, the offices can also act as the bridge that connects Vietnam’s tourism with local travelers.
However, to date, Vietnam still has not offices in foreign countries, including in Japan, which is considered the most potential market for Vietnam.