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Public and private sectors target tourism

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 tourists.

After taking one written in Korean, Lee leaves the center to join a group of friends waiting outside.

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 languages.

Vuong Quang Huynh, director of Chao Vietnam, said the center received 150 to 200 tourists every day, with almost 60 percent from Europe.

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 year end.

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 tourism.

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 overseas visitors.

The department also said about 21,000 foreigners traveled to the city by sea, a 40 percent year-on-year rise.

Source: Tuoi Tre

source: thanhninennews

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