Vietnam strives to fuel post-pandemic inbound tourism

Three months have passed since Vietnam completely reopened its tourism activities, including both inbound and outbound tours.

While domestic travel is witnessing a boom, stronger efforts are needed to seize post-pandemic opportunities to attract international visitors.

Vietnam welcomed 172,900 foreign arrivals in May, shooting up 70.6% month on month and 12.8-fold year on year. The five-month figure increased 4.5-fold year on year but still nosedived 95% from the same period of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, according to the General Statistics Office.

Ha Noi Moi daily cited Nguyen Trung Khanh, General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), as saying that since the country completely reopened tourism on March 15, with an open “vaccine passport” policy and many international air routes resumed, especially the successful organisation of the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), the number of foreign visitors has been on the rise.

Recently, Khanh Hoa province welcomed 160 Singaporean tourists to its famous resort city of Nha Trang. After receiving several groups of Singaporean and Thai travellers in late March, Da Nang city is working to attract more visitors from India. Meanwhile, Phu Quoc island of Kien Giang province served 4,300 international arrivals in the National Reunification (April 30) and May Day holidays alone.

Outbound tourism is also bouncing back.

Many travel agents said tours to Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia are currently magnets for Vietnamese travellers thanks to these destinations’ favourable visa and “vaccine passport” policies. Some companies strong at arranging tours to Europe and the US have also recorded an increasing number of customers.

However, the VNAT pointed out that although inbound tourism has been reactivated, the number of international visitors to the country has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels.

Nguyen Xuan Quynh, CEO of Allez Voyage travel company, said the firm has served just several tourist groups from the US. Many travellers wish to stay in Vietnam for a longer period, but the visa exemption currently lasts for only 15 days. Besides, soaring fuel prices have also inflated many services’ costs, making it hard for the company to make tourist reception plans.

Director of Ventindo Travel company Thai Thi Thanh Lan noted while Vietnam has reopened to international tourists, many countries still maintain a tightened travel policy. Visitors from such major markets as China and Russia haven’t returned to Vietnam.

Businesses are also facing numerous difficulties related to financial and personnel shortages, product renewal, tourism promotion, and customer seeking, said President of Lux Group Pham Ha.

To attract more foreign tourists, Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association Vu The Binh suggested enterprises recruit new personnel, provide more training to their existing employees while developing new products and upgrading old ones so as to bring new experiences to travellers.

VNAT General Director Khanh recommended companies step up tourism promotion in potential markets such as Europe, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Thailand. Both travel firms and localities should boost the application of technology to enhance the attractiveness of their destinations and tourism products.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Development Index 2021, Vietnam ranked 52nd among the 117 listed economies, jumping eight places from 2019.

Data from Google showed that the volume of international searches on Vietnam’s tourism has grown by 50% - 75%, the fourth highest increase in the world.

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