Travellers: VN Lacks an Essential Souvenir

shopping - Vietnam: June 5, 2018

On a muggy afternoon, Vladimir Egoshin—a Russian national living in Indonesia who just arrived in Vietnam that morning—passively eyed the wares that were facing him at Ben Thanh Market.

Asked if he would be purchasing any souvenirs apart from the non la he was already wearing, the only Vietnamese memento seemingly de rigueur for tourists, he shrugged noncommittally.

“I don’t know,” Egoshin said, laughing.

“Everywhere I just buy a bottle,” he said, signalling the beer he was swilling streetside, “and just, you know, have a look.”

As tourism grows, travellers’ spending has failed to follow suit.

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In 2017, Ho Chi Minh City hosted 6.4 million tourists in 2017, according to the municipal tourism department. The 23 percent increase in tourism that year delivered a mere 12.6 percent increase in tourist spending in the same time period.

When Tuoi Tre reported on the phenomenon in March, the city’s tourism officials rued the lack of major shopping destinations but also cited the 2.6 day-long stay that the average tourist spends in Ho Chi Minh City.

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That’s about how many days Joost van den Elsakker was staying in Ho Chi Minh City when he spoke to #iAMHCMC. Outside of the “Tintin” comic painting he wanted to buy for his dad in the Netherlands, he said most of his purchases had just been food and drink.

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A traveller who’s come to Vietnam after visiting Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand—a country that he noted aligns itself strongly with elephant imagery as a sort of de facto brand on its souvenirs—he said nothing in Saigon had yet enticed him as something he needed to remember his short visit.

Video source: iTravel Channel

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