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Economic difficulties in Europe prompt travel firms to prepare for the worst

The number of travelers from Europe keeps increasing, while the European market has not been influenced by the economic difficulties in the region. However, Vietnamese travel firms say they have to prepare for the worst.

European travelers have always been the targeted clients for most of the Vietnamese travel firms. European has always been one of the most important markets for Vietnam with the big sources of travelers and high travelers’ spending.

Most big travel firms in HCM City have reported that the number of European travelers has not decreased due to the economic difficulties as forecast. Especially, the number of European travelers has increased slightly so far this year.

“We have not seen any reductions,” said Ung Phuong Dung, Director of Indochina Services Travel Group, the company that receives 15,000 German travelers a year.

However, Dung said that it is still too early to say about the future. At present, the travel firm is still serving the travelers who booked tours six months or one year ago.

Other travel firms, such as Ben Thanh Tourist, Saigontourist or Asian Trails, have reported the same information. Saigontourist has reported a sharp increase in the number of cruise travelers from Europe in the first months of 2012. The number of waterways travelers has also been increasing significantly. The travel firm signed some contracts to serve European travelers in January and February.

“With the contracts signed through April 2012, we will receive cruises from Europe every week. In the busiest week, we will receive three cruises with 3000-4000 travelers,” said Doan Thi Thanh Tra, Head of the Marketing Division of Saigontourist.

“The business has been going very smoothly,” she added.

The figures released by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism VNAT have also shown that the number of travelers from big European markets such as the UK, France, and Germany has been increasing.

However, Vietnamese travel firms have said they need to well prepare for the bad situation which many occur, especially when reports all have pointed out that the situation of the region is getting worse.

Bui Viet Thuy Tien, Managing Director of Asian Trails, which specializes in providing services to the European market, said that it is too early to conclude that the economic difficulties would lead to the sharp falls of European travelers to Vietnam.

Tien said that accurate information would only come in the third or fourth quarters of the year, when travel firms implement new contracts. However, anticipating difficulties is a thing that needs to be done. Her travel firm has been trying to develop new markets, such as South America and Asia, in order to keep normal operation in the worst case.

“Europe is really a big market, but it is getting saturated. Therefore, we have been trying to seek new markets,” Tien said. “We have got the travelers from Brazil. Though the number of travelers from the market remains modest, this is really a potential market.”

A representative of Saigontourist said that only after the meetings and sale campaigns in France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine which finish in March 2012, will the travel firm be able to give assessments about the market prospects. However, at this moment, the travel firm has to prepare to deal with difficulties already.

“We have been trying to develop sale channels and meet travelers directly. We have been trying to push up online sales, so as to offer better prices for clients,” Tra from Saigontourist said.

“We are organizing seat-in-coach tours everyday, not only in HCM City, but throughout the country. We will depart even with one traveler. Meanwhile, the number of travelers booking tours online has increased by 15-20 percent,” Tra added.

Source: TBKTSG

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