US firms expand tourist services in Vietnam

The US ‘s fast-growing river cruise company Avalon Waterways plans to add the Mekong River to its list of destinations, a top executive has said.

Floating market in Mekong Delta region

Floating market in Mekong Delta region

At a May 16 press briefing, Avalon Waterways marketing chief Steve Born said that the company is building a 32-passenger vessel, called Avalon Angkor, that will sail the Mekong between Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam and Siem Reap of Cambodia to serve tourists, starting in early 2012.

“This was seen as just a natural extension of our experience,” Born said, adding “We’ve seen a rise in popularity in that area”.

According to Patrick Clark, Avalon Waterways Managing Director, the company’s plans for the Mekong are different from its competitors. “The unique thing is it’s going to be a small vessel,” Clark said, noting the larger ships that competitors are placing on the river are not flexible.

The company plans to combine a seven-night sailing on the Mekong with pre- and post-cruise hotel stays in Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap.

Clark said tourism along the Mekong is still in its early days, with a relatively small number of ships sailing the river. But the region has a lot to offer, from great food to historical sites, and demand is bound to grow, he added.

Last weekend, another US company,, the world’s leading hotel booking website, announced the launch of two new sites in Vietnam and Indonesia.

“The timing for this expansion couldn’t be better, since various cities in both Vietnam and Indonesia saw price increases last year,” said Victor Owens, Vice President of marketing, North America.

He added, with the addition of the two new sites, gave travellers one of the widest selections of accommodation on the net, including both independent and major chain hotels as well as self-catering in over 135,000 hotels in 77 sites worldwide, including 15 in the Asia-Pacific region.