Vietnam has failed to capitalize on the potential to attract tourists to the country during the upcoming multi-national sports event scheduled to commence next week in the central city of Da Nang.
Though the 5th season of the Asian Beach Games (ABG5) is set to begin on September 24, local residents remain unaware of the competition, let alone international travelers.
During an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, the director of one travel company in Da Nang said his firm has been specializing in looking after athletes and sports delegations from the attending nations.
It is difficult to promote local tourism through the sports event however as the travel agencies themselves are still unclear about the event.
According to Cao Tri Dung, president of the Da Nang Travel Association, only about 20 tours have been booked in advance for the participants of the Games.
Most of the tours include a one-day trip, with a focus on popular destinations throughout the central city.
Vitours, a Da Nang-based travel agent, have organized several trips around the ABG5 and submitted them to the event organizers, Le Tan Thanh Tung, deputy general director of the firm, said, “but no decision or announcement has been made.”
“Several questions have also been posed regarding the lack of media promotion for the event,” Tung added.
Limited time, budget
A member of the ABG5 organizing committee attributed a limited budget and limited time for preparations as the two main reasons for the absence of advertisements for the competition.
The Vietnamese host has also excluded such categories as surfing, windsurfing, and kite-surfing among others, which have a high entertainment value and would attract more visitors, the source elaborated.
The lack of coordination between the sports and tourism agencies has led to local travel agencies’ low interest in the ABG5, he continued.
The municipal tourism sector seemed only to focus on organizing a tourist conference for the ABG5, which is being funded by the meager finances of the event.
Speaking to Tuoi Tre on Saturday, Nguyen Van Tuan, head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said the conference was a sideline activity aimed at boosting cooperation between sport and tourism and proving Vietnam’s ability to host a multinational event.
“The workshop is expected to welcome delegates from 24 countries and a great opportunity for Da Nang to promote its tourism,” Tuan explained.
However, local travel agents said that more focus should have been given to attracting tourists instead of holding a conference.
Regulated by the Olympic Council of Asia, the Asian Beach Games (ABG) is a multi-sport event held every two years among athletes representing countries across Asia.
The first edition was held in Bali, Indonesia, in 2008.