The Vietnam travel industry has called for organising sales programmes during the low tourist season to attract more visitors and persuade them to loosen their purse strings.
“Most tourists to Ha Noi complain they cannot buy souvenirs though the capital is a land of craft and trade villages,” Tran Hung, a tour guide at the Ha Noi Redtour Company, said.
Luu Duc Ke, director of the Hanoitourist Company, said Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia organise sales months to attract tourist, something Viet Nam must definitely do.
Shopping was also a source of income for the tourist industry, he explained.
A tourist to Viet Nam spends an average of US$900, mostly for basic services like food, accommodation, and transport.
In Thailand it is around $1,200, 70 per cent of which is spent on shopping.
Travel companies in Thailand sold package tours at as low as $30 per day, but in return the country earned more from selling goods, Ke said.
It might already be late but it was imperative Viet Nam have a shopping festival to stimulate tourism demand, he added.
For the first time there was a national-level sales promotion in Ha Noi, HCM City and Da Nang in August and September.
Nguyen Manh Cuong, deputy head of the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism, said the festival did manage to stimulate tourism.
A senior official at the Ha Noi Department of Industry and Trade said 100 shops, supermarkets and shopping malls in the Hoan Kiem Lake area took part in the programme.
Some offered discounts of up to 50 per cent.
Most of the businesses reported a jump in business in September, some of up to 170 per cent over August.
Cuong said HCM City, which has been holding promotions in the low season for the last five years, saw 600 enterprises and 2,300 outlets take part.
In Da Nang, 29 travel firms, restaurants, da nang hotels and shopping malls offered discounts of 10 to 50 per cent.
But there were some teething troubles.
Advertising was not optimal because things began to move late, the trade department executive said.
Besides, benchmarks have yet to be set for shops signing up for the programme.