Abdullah Cankaya: Vietnam-Russia tourism at a glance


Russia is ranked in TOP5 international arrivals to Vietnam in January 2017. Within last 5 years share of Russian market in the map of Vietnam tourism statistics grew immensely: from about 5.000 tourists per year before 2011 to 433,987 Russian tourists visited Vietnam in 2016.

Exclusive interview with Mr. Abdullah Cankaya, Vice President Asia-Pacific Countries of Pegas Touristik, leading travel operator of Russia about past, present and future of tourism industry of Vietnam within  5 years retrospective and perspective.

By Daria Mishukova


Business & Leisure:
When you came to Vietnam to open a new destination for Russian market, for Pegas Touristik, what did you see in Vietnam? What was in the very beginning?

Abdullah Cankaya:
Actually I was interested to Vietnam as we were settled our company in Thailand (2004). I wanted to see around what else we could. That’s why I made trips to Vietnam at 2006 and 2008 two times to discover all and understand the country at almost all resort cities of Vietnam. Those times Vietnam as travel destination was very limited by room supply and infrastructure for Russian clients.

At 2008 I had meet some individual Russian clients in Nha Trang and asked them: how did you come here? What made them to visit Nha Trang, in which way they were there? Learnt that they heard and wanted to visit. Feedbacks were good. But it was hard to reach: connecting flights, transportations, hotel bookings etc.
And at my next visit at 2010 I did understand that we must start charter operation to Nha Trang.

Business & Leisure:
What was the most challenging in starting charter operation to Vietnam in 2011 and how did you overcome it?

Abdullah Cankaya:
That time in 2011 Pegas Touristik was the only one company who brought charter flights from different cities of Russia to Nha Trang. We wanted to fly with big body aircrafts, but at that time Cam Ranh international airport was not ready to welcome big body aircrafts by their equipments. And they could not give us a permission for landing of big body aircrafts in Cam Ranh airport. But the aircrafts (Boeing 757) we were using needed to stopover due to long distance and those aircrafts range was only 7-7.5 hrs maximum.

We made some more attempts to explain our need and made meeting with Vietnamese authorities, with People’s Committee of Nha Trang. They helped us to bring necessary equipments form Hanoi and HCM city and Nha Trang airport was ready to welcome big aircrafts. Today many big body aircrafts are flying to Nha Trang, thanks to this step.
We appreciate and never forget this help for the current potential of tourism.

But in 2011-2012 even Passport control booths were not enough. And there were no shops inside international waiting hall of Cam Ranh Airport. Now there are many, many changes and capacity increased a lot.

Business & Leisure:
What is the number of Russian tourists visited Vietnam with Pegas Touristik throughout these years and plan for 2017?

Abdullah Cankaya:
We started at 2011-2012 season with 80.000 tourists. And we came till crisis to 200.000 pax per year (including Danang). Years 2015 and 2016 were hard for Russian market.  In 2017 Pegas Touristik is planning to bring to Vietnam about 180-200.000 Russian tourists.

Business & Leisure:
Before 2011 for hotels in Nha Trang and Muine it was a typical situation: fully booked for Tet, booked well for weekend, almost no guests for 5 days/week. Was it challenging to deal with Vietnamese hoteliers at the beginning?

Abdullah Cankaya:
It took a really hard process for Pegas Touristik to explain our way of work. Vietnamese hotels never worked with global tourism charter business before. Even couple of times we collected all reservation and sales people in Nha Trang and Muine to explain the systems. But Vietnamese people are smart, they adapted quickly. I did not want to compare with other markets, but I can easily say that Vietnamese people are very smart to work with.

Business & Leisure:
Do the Russian tourists give positive feedback about Vietnam? What can be helpful to improve the situation with returning guests to Vietnam?

Abdullah Cankaya:
I may say that almost all clients are happy with Vietnam and services they receive as value of money. We don’t have major complaints. Improving the infrastructure is key point for return clients. But I must say, lately traffic jams, and squezzed downtown area started to be concern for future of Nha Trang. Nha Trang need to extend to new or larger downtown areas than Tran Phu street or this streeet need to avoid high traffic jams .

Business & Leisure:
Russian tourists are in TOP10 international arrivals to Vietnam. What is the rating of Vietnam as travel destination for Pegas Touristik? Your forecast for tourism perspectives of Vietnam for the next 5 years?

Abdullah Cankaya:
In Asia region, for Pegas Touristik Vietnam is a second bigger after Thailand. Market became like this, as Thailand was in market last 15 years, while Vietnam for us in operation just for 5-6 years. Generally among our other travel destinations, I may say Vietnam is in top 10. TOP10 travel destination for our clients: Turkey, Egypt (temporary suspended), Thailand, Spain, Greece, Tunisia, Cyprus, India, Dubai and Vietnam.

Vietnam increased the number of rooms very quickly in recent years. But all other tourism attractions must come together besides building rooms. New beaches and new invests are coming to region.  My idea is tourist capacity (not only from Russian market) will double in 5 years with many right supplies. Namely: different excursions, better restaurants, cafes, shops, touristic shows, attractions. Even modern hospitals will help to maintain the increase.  I am very optimist for the future of this beautiful country Vietnam.

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