Vietnam’s spot on a U.S. tourism association’s list of tourist destinations that will become popular in 2013 shows its huge potential to attract visitors from the North American country.
The Southeast Asian nation is ranked second among the emerging tourist spots for international visitors next year in a survey released Tuesday by the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), a professional association representing the U.S. tour operator industry.
This will urge those working in the tourism industry to pay more attention to American visitors instead of just focusing on tourists from traditional markets like Japan, South Korea, China, Russia, and other European countries, according to Vu The Binh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association.
“It is not very difficult to lure U.S. visitors as they are pretty easy customers and willing to pay to explore new lands,” Binh said. “Vietnam is now at an advantage over other countries.”
Vietnam has more off-the-beaten-track sites that fit a U.S. sense of adventure than its competitors, he elaborated.
Around 450,000 arrivals from the U.S. visit Vietnam each year, he said, adding that the number includes overseas Vietnamese. “The figure is just a small fraction of over 40 million American people traveling abroad every year, including 5 million choosing Asia as their tourist destination,” the vice chairman said.
“U.S. visitors’ $80 billion annual budget for travel is a dream to tour operators in any developing country”. He pointed out that Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore all have their tourism offices in the East and West Coasts to grab a share of this sweet pie. Each of these countries receives around 1 million U.S. arrivals each year, Binh said.
A surging number of U.S. travel agencies are eyeing Vietnam as their next destination, Bui Viet Thuy Tien, director of a travel firm in Hanoi, said, citing partners.
Vietnam and the U.S. have many special links, Binh observed, specifying that U.S. war veterans add up to 5 million and the number will rise to 25 million people when their relatives and acquaintances are counted in.
The Vietnam War in the past will act as Vietnam’s competitive edge as these people want to return to the former battlefield to explore and know more about it, Binh said. He added that 2 million overseas Vietnamese in the U.S. and their 10 million friends and relatives will also be a big market for the Vietnamese tourism sector. “We will receive much more U.S. visitors if we know how to polish our image and convey our message to them,” he said.
Binh revealed his association already has a plan to open a representative office in San Francisco to promote Vietnam’s tourism next year. “We have established contact with partners there in order to carry out this plan,” he said.
Vietnam welcomed over 6.84 million international arrivals in 2012, up 9.5 percent from last year, the General Statistics Office said. USTOA is made up of companies whose tours, vacation packages, and custom arrangements encompass the entire globe but it conducts business in the U.S.
Photo Credit: Vietnam Investment Review