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Vietnam is still not a familiar destination for Japanese leisure travelers, even though Vietnam ranks 12th out of 30 countries welcoming Japanese visitors in 2010, said a Japanese tourism entrepreneur.

Katsumi Shimizu, senior manager in charge of inbound tourism at JTB Corp., which joined the International Tourism Expo in HCMC last week, told the Daily that Vietnam should adjust marketing tools to make itself known to more Japanese tourists.

Statistics by the corporation showed that the total number of Japanese tourists coming to Vietnam last year was over 442,000, or less than half of the number to Thailand and modest compared to the 3.73 million Japanese who visited China.

Shimizu told the Daily that Vietnam should open tourist representative offices in Japan and take advantage of the internet as a promotional tool.

Vietnam also has to reach out to non-English speaking Japanese tourists when resorting to Internet promotions.

“It is useful for the domestic tour suppliers to understand Japanese tourists’ hobbies and to remember that many Japanese cannot speak English, so Vietnam has to develop destinations and attract them,” Shimizu reckoned.

According to a survey carried out by JTB, potential tourism markets for Japanese clients are countries with convenient air services, many tourist attractions and world cultural heritages and historical relics.

For years, Japanese customers have prioritized shopping as their number one hobby when traveling abroad. But they are also interested in world cultural heritages and food, Shimizu said.

Vietnam is mapping out a strategy to attract Japanese clients as it is one of the most crucial visitor-generating markets for the tourist industry.

Accordingly, Vietnam’s tourism sector participates in tourism fairs in Japan annually, organizes tours to approach Japanese media agencies and enterprises as well as holding festivals on culture, food and tourism to promote its image there.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Vietnamese Embassy in Tokyo are also jointly holding the 2011 Vietnam festival in Japan from September 15 to 20.

Shimizu also advised local travel agencies to develop two-way tourism by taking Vietnamese customers to Japan.

“Since the Japanese Government is making efforts to lure international visitors to the country, a good way to increase Japanese travelers is to take Vietnamese customers to Japan at the same time,” he explained. (Source: VNA)

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