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First footers augur well for New Year
 

On the first day of the new year, Saigontourist Travel Service held a ceremony to welcome Japanese tourists at Tan Son Nhat Airport. They were among 500 Japanese tourists visiting Vietnam on the first days of the year under tours organised by Saigontourist-run travel companies.

In recent years, Japan has become a key market for Vietnam tourism. Last year, Japanese tourists arrivals in Vietnam using the Saigontourist Travel Service fell 25%-35% due to the war in Iraq and the SARS outbreak. However, arrivals picked up in the third quarter after SARS was contained. The year-on-year surge of bookings with Saigontoruist Travel Service is 54%. Japanese tourist arrivals for the whole year are expected to soar 70%-80% over 2003.

To attract Japanese tourists, Saigontourist has improved facilities and services, upgraded staff qualifications and intensified promotions by launching roadshows in Tokyo and participating in the travel fair in Yokohama. Saigontourist has formed a joint venture with a Japanese partner to operate the four-star Yasaka-Saigon-Nha Trang Hotel. One of its promotion and marketing activities in Japan is the opening of three Vietnamese restaurants in Tokyo and a rep office in Yokohama.

As a special program to better serve Japanese tourists, Saigontourist has introduced bus tours of Ho Chi Minh City and nearby areas, and discounts for food and drink, and for shopping, massage, sauna and beauty care services at its establishments. A service center targeting mainly Japanese tourists will be built on Dong Khoi Street, District 1, in March. 

Marketing Department
 
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