HCMC, the country’s biggest tourism center, has mapped out a plan for launching a tourism marketing campaign at home and abroad to speed up a recovery of the sector hurt by the global downturn last year.
La Quoc Khanh, Deputy Director of municipal Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism said that the department would ask for a budget of VND12 billion, VND3 billion higher than last year, to finance the campaign.
“We will carry out more activities to speed up the recovery of the inbound sector along with those similar to last year for the domestic sector, ” he said.
As for the activities in foreign countries, the city’s tourism authority will join the Asian Tourism Forum in Brunei, and international travel fairs such as MATKA in Poland, MATTA in Malaysia, ITE in Hong Kong, and BITF in South Korea, a travel fair about MICE (meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Exhibitions).
There will be a marketing program in Finland to attract visitors from Northern Europe, Khanh said, adding that participating in an MICE exhibition in Germany and ITE in Hong Kong would be a new activity of the city’s tourism authority this year.
“We have set out a clear vision and purpose for each event that we have decided to attend, ” he said.
The department will also organize some events in South Korea, Japan, Spain and Cambodia to promote the city’s hospitality services as well as to join activities organized by the Tourism Promotion Organization for Asia Pacific Cities (TPO). TPO is a city network intended to develop tourism through cooperation in marketing and promotion activities.
The department plans to combine with Vietnam Airlines and the tourism association to organize familiarization tours for travel agents and media from Spain, Germany and Northern Europe to survey the city and neighboring areas.
Khanh said the department would maintain events for the inbound sector in the city this year as well. The list of 100 places in the “Exciting HCMC” program will be ready late this month for overseas tourism promotion.
The annual international travel fair in the city will organized on a larger scale at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention in District 7, instead of the smaller Phu Tho exhibition center in District 11.
“There are encouraging signs of the city’s inbound sector recovering. That’s why we will need to do more marketing to speed up the pace of recovery, ” Khanh said.
The city attracted around 2.6 million foreign visitors last year, down by around 200, 000 from the previous year. That was the first-ever decline in international visitor arrivals since the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003.
The city’s tourism authority has forecast foreign tourist arrivals this year will over around 2.8 million, the same as in 2008.
The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has reported the city’s 2009 tourism revenue increased 13% from 2008 to VND35 trillion.
Khanh ascribed the growth to a strong improvement in the domestic sector with reports from 20 biggest travel companies showing the domestic sector expanded 30% last year despite the economic downturn.