(National Times) – In order to increase inbound tourists’ spending, not only infrastructure but also experiential, exploration and creative travel products need to be ready – said Tran Trong Kien, CEO of Thien Minh Group (TMG), Chairman of National Tourism Advisory Board (TAB)

What tourism products that Vietnam needs to invest in, sir?

In my view, first theme parks for the mass market and second experiential products and third is the need for a framework for the development of experiential tourism products.

I value the quality of visits over the hardware when it comes to theme parks.

For example, Disney Land’s Mickey Mouse and its cartoon characters are those have been loved and admired by all the kids as they grow up. It is those memories that make people happy and excited when they go to Disney Land. On the contrary, many sightseeing in Vietnam is new and modern but often lack the characters that drive people’s emotion – you can call it theme park’s contents.

 

Vietnam has been excited over theme parks, casinos, shopping centers, and walking streets, these are not a bad thing but recent trends highlighted that even Asian visitors are less drawn to these places; even Chinese tourists are no longer putting casinos on top of their most loved destinations. Instead, they are turning to more original and unique products.

With the development of mass tourism products, we also need plenty of social enterprises to create exclusive products at each destination.

IMHO, theme parks will soon lose their charms if they fail to tap into the emotional aspect of human being.

Vietnam does have several unique products which high-end travelers find attractive such as Son Doong tour of Oxalis, Green River product of Mekong Delta, cycling in Mai Chau, Hoa Binh or fishing and rice cultivation in Hoi An…Indeed, those products, despite being extremely simple, have been able to deliver the most outstanding guest experience ones cannot find easily elsewhere.

What are the challenges in creating experiential travel products in Vietnam, sir?

The key issue is to be able to connect these suppliers with the technology platforms that are used daily by tour operators and to create a mechanism to incentivize these suppliers.

These bugged me for years and still, I haven’t found a sound mechanism for example for these social businesses.

Just look around in your own hometown you will find the unique products of the landscape and cultures and you will get easy access to funding once you have got a good product in hand. At any point in time my Company would set aside a million US dollars just to invest in such businesses with real potentials, sometimes it doesn’t even cost much money. A homestay only needs twenty thousand US dollars to build while an adventure product even less maybe around two hundred thousand US dollars.

Above all, we need to understand and keep up with market demands and guests’ needs, how big the market is to ensure our products are the right ones. For example, Australians love tasting local food and socializing with local people; however, they don’t book their day tours before the journey only when they arrive at the destination. Technology and media, in this case, are the best solution to bring travel products to the door of tour operators, hotels and customers.

Market reaction is also important, as soon as there are better flight connections between Vietnam and Australia and now that Vietnam has been known for being a safe destination, Vietnam should quickly create modified products to targets right at this market segment. In many cases, experiential travelers are not repetitive but they would certainly share and recommend their trip with friends and families.

There are many people are investing in homestays. How do they know they make the right decision?

Local authorities need to concern and ensure the highest benefits for tourists while protecting local people and upkeeping environment and culture as well as safeguarding foundations of the society. Also, they must be wise enough to forecast the market trend and foresee high-value investments.

Local authorities are those who know best as to the destinations’ strengths and weakness a competent authority that can build things that last will provide a clear answer to such questions. Anywhere else in the world, local authorities invite their community to join in developing local tourism. I do believe in the possibility of creating such quality products in Vietnam and even they could be left for the use of future generations.

In Vietnam, what are the best places for mass tourism? And also, any opportunity for discovering tourism, sir?

We have learned most from Thailand about doing mass tourism. They have about 15 million mass visitors, the rest are experiential. The world’s trend including Asia has shown a shift from mass to experiential.

For the mass market, we only need a few destinations to say Da Nang and Hoi An can become a popular tourism destination similar to Phuket, Thailand. These cities come in a suitable environment, cultural features, and outstanding destinations while weather could be tricky.

I can’t emphasize enough the necessity of sustainable and effective experiential tourism product development.

Vietnamese are dare to think, dare to do and possess the kind of creativity, ease to adapt to technology surely are capable of making special local products.

So making hundreds thousand to millions US dollars a year like Oxalis is nothing impossible!

Thank you so much for sharing!

Source: National Times