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FINANCIAL CHRONICLE™ » DAILY CHRONICLE™ » Sri Lanka Vietnam direct flights can boost tourism

Sri Lanka Vietnam direct flights can boost tourism

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Malika1990

Malika1990
Senior Vice President - Equity Analytics
Senior Vice President - Equity Analytics
Sept 08, 2012 HUE/COLOMBO (LBO) - Tourist traffic between Sri Lanka and Vietnam could be boosted with direct air links which can cut travel time and ticket costs helping make the destination competitive, officials said.

"In July a new air services agreement was reached," Vietnam's ambassador Ton Sinh Thanh said during an even in Colombo to mark the country's national day.
The bilateral air services agreement could pave the way for direct flights or a code-share deal with SriLankan Airlines and Vietnam Airlines, he said.

Earlier a delegation of travel agents from Sri Lanka who met tourism authorities in Hue, a historic city in the centre of Vietnam said at the moment air tickets from Colombo were very much higher than to other popular East Asian destinations due to the lack of direct flights.

"Once the fares are lower we can market the product easily," Nishan Seneveratne, head of outbound travel at Aitken Spence Travels said during a meeting in

"Bangkok, Singapore, Malaysia and even Dubai are not so expensive. If direct flights are started an introductory fare would allow us to market Vietnam easily.

"Once people get to know Vietnam more people will come."

Le Huu Minh, vice director of the tourism department of Thua Thien Hue province said the area, the seat of the last dynasty of Nguyen kings and with its imperial palace and other monuments was also positioned as a festival city.

One of Vietnam's most famous waterway, the Perfume River cuts through the area. As the country's last imperial city it also has a legacy of a varied cuisine estimated to run into 1,400 dishes. In the first six months of 2012 1.7 million people had visited the city.
Several travel agencies were already taking Sri Lankans to Vietnam.

"Looking at the first hand experience from the north, the centre and the south of Vietnam, I find that this is a new destination for Sri Lankans," Roland Gunesekere general manager of Safeway Travels & Tours said at the conclusion of a familiarization tour of Vietnam.

"From what I have seen, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon has a lot of potential for Sri Lankan tourists, because of its cosmopolitan atmosphere. We have had feedback from Sri Lankan visitors that shopping wise it is an attractive destination as well."

"There should be closer co-operation between SriLankan and Vietnam airlines to have a more competitive air fare."

Vietnamese people are friendly and helpful to tourists.

Le Phong Tran, director of the inbound department of Fiditours, one of the largest tour operators in the country which is active in the Centre and the South, says there is potential to bring Vietnamese tourists to Sri Lanka.

Tran visited Colombo with two other tour operators earlier this year.

"There is a big potential for Sri Lanka and Vietnam. The Vietnamese are now wealthy enough and are looking for new destinations. That is why I went to Colombo in June. We are now looking for partners in Sri Lanka to develop the market."

Quach Thi My Hoa, vice inbound tour manager of Hanoi Toserco, a state-run agency based in the capital, who also visited Colombo in June, says Sri Lanka has advantages and challenges.

"In Sri Lanka many people speak English, so it is very easy to welcome foreigners," she said. "For Sri Lankans also it is easy to come to Vietnam because we have similar tradition, and some of the food is also similar. Our people are very friendly.

"Vietnamese people also like to see some of the pagodas in Sri Lanka. We have a lot of shopping centres and pagodas also."

"But Sri Lankan food is very spicy. Compared to Thailand there is less shopping centres in Colombo."

But compared to other countries there was not much information about Sri Lanka on the internet for potential visitors.

Sri Lanka which emerged from a 30-year war is seeing a tourism boom and is hoping to welcome a million tourists in 2012, compared to the six million tourists who visited Vietnam last year.

"Even in Vietnam we have more than a 1,000 travel agencies who have put up websites," Hoa said. "If you Google, there is a lot of information about other countries. Also at the moment there is no Vietnamese restaurant in Colombo. That is also a problem."
http://www.lbo.lk/fullstory.php?nid=1972675130

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