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 November 07, 2003
Singapore Tourism Board Opens Visitors Centre In Ho Chi Minh City

 The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has opened a Singapore Visitors Centre in Ho Chi Minh City to entrench its presence in Vietnam in order to forge stronger collaborative partnerships with the Vietnamese travel industry, as well as to provide timely and effective customer service support to Vietnamese travellers to Singapore. The STB is the first National Tourism Organisation to set up a regional office in Vietnam. Located on the 3rd floor of Saigon Tourist Department Store in Ho Chi Minhís District 1, the Centre's opening reinforces the STB's strategy to focus on key ASEAN markets and to further bilateral tourism interest between Singapore and its ASEAN neighbours. The Board's presence in Vietnam will also enable it to nurture growth opportunities in new tourism segments like healthcare and education as well as to enhance Singapore's position as a rich tourism hub for the ASEAN market. The STB is planning to open offices in Johor Bahru, Medan, Jakarta and Manila in the coming months to facilitate greater flow of tourism co-operation in the ASEAN region.

The opening ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City was graced by Vietnam's senior government officials, and Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry, Brigadier-General (BG) George Yeo.

BG Yeo said; "The STB's establishment of market presence in Vietnam will enhance the co-operative spirit in the area of tourism - both bilaterally between Vietnam and Singapore as well as regionally within ASEAN ñ through business, information and cultural exchanges."

"This is a strong affirmation of Singapore's commitment towards advocating the concept of 'regional tourism' to co-operate with the rest of our ASEAN neighbours and promote this part of the world as one destination. Vietnam's natural and cultural tourism offerings are ideal complements to Singapore's own destination vibrancy. Hence, it is imperative that both the STB and its Vietnamese counterparts work closely together, with involvement from the private sector, to forge strong linkages in areas such as tour packaging, industry development and international marketing," added BG Yeo.

Vietnam's prominence in the context of ASEAN tourism has risen significantly in recent years. According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), 2.6 million international tourists visited Vietnam in 2002, representing an increase of 13% over 2001. VNAT also estimates that close to 400,000 Vietnamese travelled overseas in 2002, an increase of 14% over the previous year.

Vietnamese visitor arrivals in Singapore have also almost doubled from 22,000 in 1998 to over 40,000 in 2002, making it as one of our fastest growing markets with an average year-on-year increase of 15.7% for visitor arrivals. From January to September 2003, Singapore received a total of 30,096 visitors from Vietnam. The undeniable potential of Vietnamese outbound tourism is further underlined by its higher-than-average per visitor spend of more than S$1,000, and an average length of stay of 5 nights. In 2002 the per capita average spend of a leisure visitor was S$717, while the average visit duration was 3.1 days.

STB's Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive, Mr. Lim Neo Chian, said, "The establishment of a Visitors Centre in Ho Chi Minh will enable us to respond more quickly to market developments and opportunities, forge closer collaborative partnerships with our Vietnamese travel trade partners, and provide stronger
customer service to Vietnamese travellers. With its strong economic growth fundamentals and rising affluence, Vietnam's market potential is undeniable. Beyond our traditional focus on leisure and business visitors, the STB team in Ho Chi Minh City will also proactively explore ways to develop the new niche segments of healthcare and education tourism."

To further accelerate the flow of tourism and trade among the ASEAN countries, Singapore will also be lifting visa requirements for visitors from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. BG Yeo made this announcement in his speech at the opening of the STB's Singapore Visitors Centre in Ho Chi Minh City. With effect from 10, November 2003, visa requirements for nationals of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos visiting Singapore will be waived.

Mr. Lim Neo Chian said, "The mutual benefit that both Singapore and Vietnam will derive from our tourism partnership will be significant as it will help drive increased travel to both countries from all over the world. Apart from attracting more Vietnamese visitors to Singapore - especially with the easing of visa requirements, we will work closely with the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, to bring more visitors from overseas markets like America, Europe and Australia to Vietnam through Singapore. The Singapore Visitor Centre in Ho Chi Minh City will also serve as a service center for our other Indochina markets, such as Cambodia and Laos."

In the coming months, STB will be rolling out several tourism initiatives in Vietnam to promote Singapore as an appealing leisure, business, healthcare and education destination. These include joint consumer promotions such as the Christmas Light Up 2003 tour packages; provision of marketing materials on education and healthcare services in Singapore; and working with appropriate partners and agencies to develop training and upgrading programmes for Vietnamese ground operators.