What Vietnam Can Learn From Thailand

By Jim Sullivan | On May 30, 2013

 

If you’re a hotelier, Bangkok’s the place to be these days. Mastercard Worldwide on May 27 crunched the numbers of international arrivals and found that more travelers are flocking to Bangkok than to any other city in the world. Check out the news here.
 
In all, Bangkok is winning 15.98 million people per year, besting London, Paris, Singapore and New York. The report doesn’t explore why Bangkok is so hot, though it does note that travelers spend US $14.3 billion per year. And it does note where people are coming in from:
 
•    Singapore (1.1 million)
•    Tokyo (973,000)
•    Hong Kong (860,000)
•    Kuala Lumpur (744,000)
•    Seoul (732,000)
 
Mastercard’s findings confirm what Travel + Leisure found in 2011 and 2012 when they polled readers on their World’s Best Awards: Bangkok is the No. 1 destination.
 
Meanwhile in nearby Vietnam, the country has watched its international arrivals fall off by about 5 percent, according to a report in Vietnam News. Why? Lots of reasons, I suppose, one of which must be visa fees. Though Vietnam News notes that fees have risen from $25 to $45, in the U.S., a single-entry visa now costs $100.  In Thailand, Americans don’t need a visa for short stays.
 
And it very well may be that the bloom is off the rose in Vietnam. Destinations have to work hard to lure travelers once the curiosity factor fades. ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’ was apropos 20 years ago, but no longer.
 
Clearly, destinations have to work hard to win traveler dollars. One recent American travel journalist we brought to Vietnam said Thailand’s tourism board was continually trying to pull her into the country. But she’s never experienced any pull from Vietnam. That’s not a problem; that’s an opportunity. Think millions, so you can think billions.

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