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Target for Japanese tourists in doubt

The one million target – which the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) announced at a meeting with Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in Hanoi last week – is more than double the 400,000 Japanese visitors expected for this year.

Many travel companies catering for Japanese reported numbers have dropped by as much as 40% from previous years.

“The financial crisis has been a factor, but the main reasons are old products, the image of the country as a tourist destination isn’t fresh, and lack of human resources,” Nguyen Van Tran, general director of APEX Travel Co., Ltd told the Daily.

Dinh Nguyen Ngoc Giang, inbound manager of O.S.C Travel (S.M.I. Group) Co., said Japanese traveler arrivals had dropped.

“As for tour prices, Vietnam cannot compete with other destinations like China and Thailand, but the tourism sector could enrich its products and increase effective marketing activities,” she said.

Tour operators said the products had hardly changed in 10 years and that the once popular Jakka tourism that helped Vietnam sell a lot of handicraft souvenirs to Japanese had lost its shine.

The national tourism campaign is targeting culture and tourism festivals, travel exhibitions, and organizing familiarization trips for travel agents and media, but it’s not enough, tour operators said.

Tran of APEX said the important thing to do is open a representative office for Vietnam tourism in Japan.

He said his mother company in Japan had already asked the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism to open an office in Japan and was willing to help, but the administration had not responded.

The lack of Japanese language speakers here was another big problem, the operators said.