The Hanoitimes - On the sidelines of the Talk show of Fostering the United States - Vietnam Tourism held by Vietnam Tourism Association (VITA) in Hanoi on November 11, Jay Ellenby – President of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) had a private exchange with the reporter of Economics & Urban about ways to help Vietnam attract US visitors.
In the United States, ASTA is the largest travel agents with the strength to take American citizens abroad. Can you assess the level of interest of US visitors in Vietnam destinations?
Jay Ellenby – President of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA).
- In 2016, the total number of US visitors travelling abroad was 80 million, 56% of which came to Canada and Mexico, 6.6% to Asia and 4.37% to Southeast Asia and the total expenditure of these visitors is USD 246 billion. Particularly, Vietnam received 552,644 arrivals (accounting for 15.6% of total arrivals to Southeast Asia and 10.26% of arrivals to Asia). In the first 10 months of 2017, there are 506,354 US visitors to Vietnam, up 10.6% over the same period in 2016. Visitors from the United States always stand in the top 5 of Vietnam Tourism.
Appreciating that Vietnam is one of the most important destinations and markets for the United States, in April 2017, a FAM delegation of ASTA headed by Robert Duglin – Vice President of ASTA attended the Vietnam International Travel Mart – VITM Hanoi, to meet the travel compnies in Vietnam, visit Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh, simultaneously, sign a Memorandum of Cooperation between ASTA and VITA.
At the Talk show of Fostering The United States – Vietnam Tourism held by Vietnam Society Travel Agents (VISTA), on November 11, ASTA and VISTA signed the Cooperation Agreement in 2018 and 2019. Can you say more clearly about the future cooperation between the two sides?
- In this agreement, the Vietnam Society Travel Agents will register to participate in some programs organized by the ASTA. In the opposite way, the ASTA is committed to supporting a number of programs organized by the Vietnam Society Travel Agents. In particular, ASTA will send delegations to travel to VITM 2018 in Hanoi from March 28 to April 1, 1818.
The United States is always one of the five most important markets of Vietnam Tourism, so how can Vietnam increasingly attract a large number of US visitors, sir?
- This cannot be done overnight, we will try to coordinate with VISTA to promote tourism development between the two countries. On the Vietnamese side, especially the travel agents, if you are interested in the US market, in addition to invite us to survey, participate in the mart, you need to pay attention to promotion and two-way meetings. Travel agents are specific people, they will tell you what the problem that needs to be resolved. On the other hand, qualified businesses should register to become ASTA members. That is the most effective and wise way. By that, you will have information, market research and have confidence from ASTA companies. The companies in ASTA are very confident in their members, which is the prerequisite for all cooperation
Besides, you need to study other destinations in the region such as Thailand, Malaysia,... to offer the most competitive rates for the same journeys and destinations. At the same time, you should create and promote unique products which are only found in Vietnam to attract US visitors. And of course, we are ready to accompany Vietnam to do it
First time to Hanoi in particular, Vietnam in general, what impresses you about the capital with more than thousand years of civilization and S-shaped country?
- My first impression is that Hanoi's cuisine is great, people are very friendly and close. All of your dishes are processed very skillfully. Even foods that are very familiar to me like beef, lobster, squid... the chef can also surprise me with the talent processing way. Last night, I learned how to wrap and fry traditional Hanoi rolls. It was a great experience. Right after finishing the dinner, I called my wife to tell her every such memorable moment and how to make this special dish. I promised to go to America to make fried rolls for the whole family. I have now learnt why when President Obama came to Vietnam he enjoyed this interesting dish. From what I have experienced and learned, I believe food is one of the "magnet" attracting US visitors to Hanoi in particular, Vietnam in general.
Ho Ha - Tuyet Nhung