With a population of more than 90 million, Vietnam is a potential market for domestic tours, reported the Vietnam Economic News, adding that the domestic market will be extremely lucrative if businesses know how to connect with each other to exploit it.

Many travel companies said they almost sold out their tours to Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc for April 30 and May 1 holidays and that the demand for tours to Sa Pa, Dien Bien and Moc Chau has exceeded supply. A number of tourism companies have increased the number of tours to satisfy increased demand.

According to Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Association Deputy Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Khanh, demand exceeding supply is the result of the domestic tour demand stimulus programme which makes domestic tours more competitive.

Vietnam has many advantages for the development of domestic tours, including its internationally recognized long, glorious history, the long-lasting, rich cultures of the 54 ethnic groups, picturesque landscapes and heritage sites located throughout the country.

Over the past decade, the domestic tour market was so busy during holiday and festive seasons despite the difficulties caused by the global financial crisis. In 2009, although the global financial crisis seriously affected the tourism industry and the number of foreign visitors to Vietnam dropped by 10 percent, domestic tours attracted 25 million buyers, an increase of 20 percent over the previous year.

Domestic tours attracted 33 million buyers in 2012, 35 million buyers in 2013 and 13.7 million buyers in the first quarter of 2014. They are expected to attract 37.5 million buyers in 2014.

According to the Vietnam Tourism Association, a large number of Vietnamese people bought outbound tours because they had more competitive prices and were better advertised. Many domestic tourism, transport and other service providers hadn’t been willing to work with each other to create more competitive tours.

Khanh said thanks to the domestic tour demand stimulus programme, the number of organizations and individuals buying tours to destinations in Ho Chi Minh City in 2013 doubled that in 2012, and that many northern and central travel companies achieved encouraging results.

The results could be higher if service providers built closer connectivity, experts said.

New expectations were set as in early April 2014, the coalition for demand stimulus in northern, central and southern regions signed a cooperation agreement to kick off a tourist demand stimulus programme in the three regions in 2014.

According to the agreement, tourism associations will work with each other to construct publications introducing the local tourism potential and build regional connectivity, commit to providing preferential prices for each other while ensuring service quality, increase the exchange of market and service quality information, and assist each other to train human resources.

According to the newspaper, leaders of the Vietnam Tourism Association said that this connectivity is important for the sustainable development of Vietnamese tourism.-VNA