Tourism information centers are a new concept in Vietnam but both government departments and tourism businesses are eying the opportunities.
Itís 12 noon.
Lee, a South Korean tourist, walks into the
information center Chao Vietnam (Hello
Vietnam) in front of the Reunification
Palace in Ho Chi Minh City.
He is happy to see a shelf of city maps for
After taking one written in Korean, Lee
leaves the center to join a group of friends
They are now ready to explore the city.
As well as tourist maps, the center also
offers free information on flight schedules
and upcoming events, all provided in five
Vuong Quang Huynh, director of Chao Vietnam,
said the center received 150 to 200 tourists
every day, with almost 60 percent from
The center was in regular contact with more
than 130 tourism businesses so it could
provide a wide range of brochures and
catalogues to tourists, Huynh said.
This service also helped those businesses
advertise their products, he said.
Unlike Chao Vietnam, Vina Media and Dat Viet
bring tourism information to foreigner
travelers in HCMC via touch screen displays.
According to Vina Media Director Le Hoang
Yen, the company will set up some 100
tourist information spots with touch screens
at high ranking hotels, shopping centers and
office buildings around the city by the end
of this year.
At such spots, tourists will be able to
easily access information, including photos
and videos, about attractions, restaurants,
hotels, shopping and entertainment centers,
as well as tourist tips like ď10 things you
shouldnít miss in HCMC.Ē
Yen said each of the operating systems for
those spots cost more than US$5,000, adding
that her company always offered tourists the
most updated information.
Dat Viet Advertising Company said it had
recently installed 13 information booths in
HCMC worth $10,000 each.
The company also plans to build 50 more
booths in the city and 40 in Hanoi by this
Deputy Director Duong Huy said the company
would sell advertising space on the booths
to businesses at the same rate as other
kinds of outdoor advertisement.
La Quoc Khanh, deputy director of the HCMC
Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism,
said the cooperation of private companies
with the department in providing information
to foreigners was the best way to promote
Khanh said the department was conducting a
survey of foreign tourists to assess their
satisfaction with the way Vina Media
presented tourism information.
If the survey returns favorable responses
from tourists, the department will work with
Vina Media to apply the same method to the
departmentís seven information centers,
which opened last year, he said.
The project to set up the seven centers was
approved by the city administration in 2004
but the project made slow progress until
November last year.
After the centers opened, an official from
the then Department of Tourism said tourism
businesses gave very little support because
they didnít think the centers could
publicize their services to tourists.
As a result, the information available at
these low-budget centers was limited and so
the centers didnít attract many foreigners,
the official said.
Statistics from the HCMC Department of
Culture, Sports and Tourism show that 1.2
million foreign tourists visited the city in
the first six months of 2008, a 12 percent
increase on the same period last year.
Tourists from the US, Japan, Taiwan, South
Korea and Australia made up the bulk of the
The department also said about 21,000
foreigners traveled to the city by sea, a 40
percent year-on-year rise.
Source: Tuoi Tre