By Mong Binh – The Saigon Times Daily
HCMC – Malaysia’s tourism authority is promoting more products in Vietnam with an aim to attract around 200,000 travelers from this market described by the director of Tourism Malaysia in Vietnam as holding huge potential.
“We had about 150,000 Vietnamese visitors last year and are trying to reach 200,000 this year,” Akbal Setia told the Daily after the Malaysia Golf and Youth Tourism Seminar and Travel Mart that Tourism Malaysia organized in HCMC last Friday.
Setia said the additional 50,000 travelers from Vietnam would be a very big number but attainable because Malaysia welcomed nearly half of the target in the first six months of this year.
“Based on our estimates, we already reached 89,000 something and we think the number of Vietnamese tourist arrivals for the whole year will be realized,” Setia said. He added that many more would visit Malaysia in summer and months afterward as Tourism Malaysia would highlight major festivals and programs including mega sale promotion.
Golf and homestay packages will be further advertised in Vietnam following the seminar and meeting with representatives of travel firms last Friday, including Saigontourist, Ben Thanh Tourist and Vitours.
Haji Sahaliman Hamdan, president of the Malaysian Homestay Association, told the Daily after the seminar that he would come back soon later this year to further promote the alternative for Vietnamese visitors to better understand the culture and lifestyle of Malaysia.
Vietnamese travel agents showed their interest in homestay tourism in Malaysia by raising queries linked to price, accommodation, villages and activities for big groups of their guests for the association’s president.
Setia of Tourism Malaysia said Vietnam held big potential for Malaysia to draw a number of travelers going to Malaysia for golf and homestay as well as sport tourism activities and entertainment.
He quoted sources as saying that around 6,000 people in Vietnam played golf regularly, and the majority of Vietnamese population is young who are very keen to explore culture and lifestyle of Malaysia.
“Normally, we sell packages covering sightseeing and shopping,” Setia said. “We are now beginning to focus on the niche segments of golf and homestay to expand our market.”
In addition to new products, Setia said Tourism Malaysia also shared some of the costs with travel firm to encourage them to bring more guests to that country.
Setia said Vietnamese arrivals in Malaysia increased by 15-20% year-on-year, and this momentum was continuing. “You know, Vietnamese market, to us, is quite new because we officially started in 2003. Seven years is not a long period for tourism.”
More Malaysian travelers have also visited Vietnam. Setia said over 166,000 Malaysian travelers came to Vietnam in 2009 and this number was more than that of Vietnamese arrivals in Malaysia in that year.
Vietnam attracted nearly 116,000 Malaysians in the January-July period this year, an increase of 19.4% compared to the year-earlier period, according to figures of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).