Ho Chi Minh City has long been one of the top Vietnamese destinations for both domestic and foreign visitors.
In the first half of 2019, it welcomed more than 16.5 million domestic and 4.25 million foreign travellers, gaining 73 trillion VND (3.16 billion USD) in tourism revenue.
Inter-regional connections formed
Director of the municipal Tourism Department Bui Ta Hoang Vu said the local tourism sector has been enhancing cooperation with many provinces and cities nationwide.
For the nearby Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City has formed partnerships with the Dong Thap Muoi sub-region (comprising Long An, Tien Giang and Dong Thap provinces) and with the eastern and western localities of the Delta.
Under these relations, Ho Chi Minh City and its Mekong Delta partners have shared experience in tourism management, organised promotion activities, developed tourism products, provided manpower training and worked to attract investment, Vu noted.
Nguyen Dong Hoa, Deputy Director General of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Saigontourist Holding Company – an operator of many trans-locality tours, said tourism cooperation has been carried out bidirectionally, which means travel companies organise tours for visitors to travel from HCM City to other localities, and vice versa.
He said about 70 percent of foreign visitors to Ho Chi Minh City say they want to continue their trips on to the Mekong Delta.
Aside from the Mekong Delta, the local tourism sector has worked with many localities in the central and Central Highlands regions.
The fruitful tourism cooperation programme for 2014-2018 between Ho Chi Minh City and Nghe An, a province in the northern central region, is an example. It helped popularise numerous tours of historical relic sites in both localities while promoting tourism investment. From 2015 to 2018, the Saigontourist Travel Service Company, an affiliate of the Saigontourist Holding Company, served about 52,000 Vietnamese and foreign vacationers coming to Nghe An – the hometown of late President Ho Chi Minh.
Under their cooperation plan for 2019-2025, the two sides are organising fact-finding trips, developing new tours of Nghe An, and giving manpower training, officials noted.
Nguyen Thi Minh Anh, a tourist from Vinh city of Nghe An, said going by plane to HCM City, her family visited many historical relic sites there such as Nha Rong Wharf, Cu Chi Tunnels and Sac Forest in Cu Chi district. In return, many of her friends in Ho Chi Minh City also set foot in Sen village – the hometown of President Ho Chi Minh, Thanh Chuong tea islets and Cua Lo beach of Nghe An.
Identifying particular products
According to Director of the Tourism Department Bui Hoang Ta Vu, Ho Chi Minh City pays attention to working with other localities to build cooperation plans that must be based on tourism potential and relevant conditions.
It is very important to specify special tourism products of each locality so as to attract visitors, he added.
Vu took MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) tourism as an example, noting it is one of the strong tourism products of Ho Chi Minh City, and many local travel companies have bolstered ties with other localities to tap into this sector.
The Saigontourist Travel Service Company alone provided MICE trips for more than 100,000 people between May and July.
Saigontourist Deputy Director General Hoa said special tourism products are not necessarily completely new, but can be new to the markets travel firms are targeting. For example, bicycle tours from Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta are popular, but companies can renew them by selecting new stops along the routes such as craft villages or historical and cultural relics.
Cao Xuan Thu Van, Director of the Culture, Sports and Tourism Department of Bac Lieu province, said under their tourism cooperation, western localities of the Mekong Delta region like Can Tho city and the provinces of An Giang, Kien Giang, Ca Mau, Soc Trang, Bac Lieu and Hau Giang are striving to develop unique tourism products, like spiritual tourism in An Giang, waterway tourism in Can Tho, and tours of economic facilities like wind power plants or hi-tech shrimp farms in Bac Lieu.