HCMC - Vietnam’s growing attraction to international travelers is creating a lot of opportunities for United Airlines to maintain business growth momentum in this Southeast Asian country, said the airline’s vice president for Asia Pacific.
By Mong Binh - The Saigon Times Daily
United vice president for Asia Pacific James Mueller at a meeting with reporters in HCMC last week - Photo: Mong Binh HCMC - Vietnam’s growing attraction to international travelers is creating a lot of opportunities for United Airlines to maintain business growth momentum in this Southeast Asian country, said the airline’s vice president for Asia Pacific.
James Mueller told reporters in HCMC last week that Vietnam was emerging as a tourist destination and more travelers had been interested in this country. Moreover, many more Vietnamese-Americans return home and people here go stateside to visit their relatives as well.
“Vietnam will continue to attract more tourists,” Mueller commented when he was in Vietnam last week to meet clients and employees of United and to get a deeper understanding of the market.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) said the country attracted more than 2.96 million international visitors in the six months to June this year, a year-on-year increase of 18.1%.
Nearly 239,000 Americans visited Vietnam in the first half of this year, up 3.4% over the same period last year and making the U.S. the fourth largest visitor-generating market for Vietnam after China, Korea and Japan. The number of Americans coming to Vietnam in 2010 rose 6.9% to surpass 430,900.
Leisure travelers are a very large and important market segment for United, and the airline has spent a lot of time on trying to capture the opportunity, Mueller said. He also said the business traveler segment was growing in Vietnam from a much lower base than Hong Kong, Singapore and some of the other markets in Asia Pacific.
Mueller said United had registered steady business growth in Vietnam since it started service in 2004. But he stressed how much its business would grow in this country depended much on the expansion in the number of business travelers and the economic conditions in Vietnam and the U.S., as well as the number of companies that invest in this marketplace.
“I think these economic factors are very important, especially to our business in the future,” Mueller responded to the Daily’s question about United’s growth in Vietnam over the past years and challenges arising from high jet fuel prices and uncertainties worldwide.
United is the only U.S. operator of daily service between Vietnam and the U.S., but Mueller said there was quite a lot of competition for the route between the two countries. At the moment, not only just United but also the airlines from Korea, Taiwan and Japan serve customers between the two destinations through their hub airports in Northeast Asia.
Mueller said United was doing well in the very competitive marketplace because of its globally wide network coverage, particularly after the merger of United and Continental that has created convenient connections for customers at strategic hub airports located around the world.
He gave an example that customers in Vietnam were now able to take United’s daily flight to Hong Kong and then get on non-stop service to New York besides options for the flights to San Francisco and other destinations in the U.S.
United looks to launch service from Hong Kong to Tokyo later this year and connect this to its flight from Vietnam in order to provide one more connection opportunity for both leisure and business travelers departing from Vietnam.