Vietnam remains a “hidden beauty” in the eyes of foreign tourists

Vietnam has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to show its beautiful landscapes on famous television channels CNN or BBC, or to advertise on taxis in London. However, Vietnam remains an unknown and hidden charm to foreign travelers.

The arrow that failed to reach the target

In recent years, Vietnam has been paying more attention to promoting tourism. However, the result remains modest. In the second half of 2010 alone, Vietnam spent 5.3 billion dong to run advertisement campaigns on CNN, which gobbled up 12 percent of the total budget for the yearly national tourism promotion program.

A mini survey conducted by the Vietnam Economic Forum conducted on 200 foreign travelers showed that 77 percent of foreign travelers have never seen information about Vietnam’s tourism in mass media, advertisements or at tourism trade fairs. Ninety-three percent of polled tourists said they never see the advertisement pieces on BBC and CNN.

Vietnam also spent money to place advertisements on 27 taxis out of 10,000 taxis in London in the UK for six months. However, local dwellers said they never see the advertisements.

Vu Huy Vu, Deputy General Director of Saigon Tourist, said Vietnam needs to do many more things to popularize Vietnam’s tourism in the world. “Vietnam needs to have more and more publications introducing Vietnam’s tourism potentials. It needs to set up tourism representative offices in other countries to promote tourism,” he said, adding that other regional countries like Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines all have representative offices in Europe and the US for tens years.

Meanwhile, a cheap but effective communication channel – Internet – has been ignored.

Ben Chua is a Singaporean person who builds and runs vietnam720, an website that uses interactive products like videos, audios to introduce attractive destinations in Vietnam.

“If you access to, you will find everything about Singapore. For example, if you type “art”, the website will show all the information about arts, from the events to places for excursions or the hotels near art centers,” he said.

Ben Chua said he has an account on Twitter to listen opinions from people about Vietnam. There is a tweet posted in every 10 seconds, which means 36,000 opinions come every hour. However, no official agency has replied to the opinions.

What is a new image for Vietnam?

In mid January 2011, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism VNAT officially announced the result of the logo creation competition for the new period. The slogan “Vietnam – a different Orient” has won the competition. However, after two months, the slogan has not been approved to become the new slogan of Vietnam’s tourism in the new period.

It seems that foreigners still see Vietnam as a war torn country, rather than an attractive destination in peacetime. It is because Vietnam is still busy looking for a new suitable slogan to be introduced to the world.

“Vietnam is a friendly, joyful country, where the prices are reasonable. However, the images Vietnam introduces to the world do not reflect these things,” said Tim Russell, Managing Director of Come & Go Vietnam travel firm.

He believes that since Vietnam cannot build up a reasonable tourism brand, only five percent of tourists return to Vietnam for the second time, while 50 percent of tourists come to Thailand for the second time.

He went on to say that Vietnam only has been trying to attract the tourists who are interested in the culture and discoveries, while it has not been trying to attract holidaymakers. Meanwhile, tourism does not only mean discovery, but also means relaxing, sunbathing, playing golf and water sports, meals, nightlife and anything that is a part of a comfortable life.

He believes that Vietnam should look for professional consultants and should carry out surveys in many places in order to build up a professional marketing strategy.

Collected by Vietnam hotels