By Hoang Phong   October 12, 2023 | 07:20 am GMT+7

Vietnam's largest tourism markets yet to recover fully after Covid

Foreign tourists pose for the photographer as they watch a street art performance in Hue, April 29, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh

Southeast Asia has become a bright area for inbound tourism to Vietnam while its primary tourism markets, including China, South Korea, and the U.S., are still returning to pre-Covid levels.

In terms of international visitors, Vietnam has already surpassed its annual goal of eight million and is currently anticipating 13 million.

However, the recovery rate is even lower in South Korea (82.3%), Taiwan (85.3%), Japan (60%) and China (28%), according to statistics from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism. These are the country’s five largest tourism feeder markets.

Even though visas are not required for citizens of 13 countries, the number of tourists from these nations has not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Experts in the tourism industry have cited a number of causes.

According to Martin Koerner, head of the tourism working group of the Vietnam Business Forum, speaking to VnExpress International, airfares from the likes of Europe and the United States are twice pre-pandemic levels, which discourages American and European travelers.

Furthermore, a worldwide economic decline has been seen. As a result, many people, especially those in the middle class, who could previously afford to travel abroad are now limited to vacations within their own country or to neighboring regions.

According to him, the number of flights to Vietnam from major markets has not yet caught up to where it should be in 2019.

To emphasize the sluggish resumption of air links between the two nations, Koerner mentioned last month that China Southern Airlines was the first Chinese carrier to restart flights that had been suspended owing to Covidto Cam Ranh/Nha Trang, a significant market for Chinese visitors.

The lack of a full recovery in the number of incoming tourists is understandable when compared to 2019’s situation, when dozens of scheduled flights and charter planes arrived everyday.

“It will take significantly more time for the aviation industry to readjust all its air routes and I don’t see that happening before 2025.”

Big Data Research Institute and Qunar, a Beijing-based online travel agency, released a study on Chinese travelers’ preferences for international destinations on September 18. The results showed that Vietnam was no longer the most popular pick.

Chinese tourists have shied away from Vietnam due to a lack of premium services and a dearth of travel options. Travel agency CEO Dao Viet Long of Hanoi remarked.

Positive aspect

In any case, Southeast Asian countries are supporting the growth of the international visitor industry.

With 267% more tourists visiting in the first nine months of this year compared to the same period pre-pandemic, Cambodia has overtaken Singapore (106%) and Thailand (101%) as Vietnam’s fastest growing tourism market.

You can stay for 30 days without a visa. Southeast Asians go to Vietnam because of the openness of the country to visitors from other ASEAN member states.

According to experts, the rapid improvement is due in part to the recent introduction of new direct flights to Vietnamese cities from tourism centres in Southeast Asia.

They did, however, sound the alarm that Vietnam’s neighbors are beginning to heat up in the global tourism race.

From September 25 onward, Chinese and Kazakh tourists will not need a visa to visit Thailand, and Indonesia has just introduced a “golden visa” program that will allow foreigners to remain for up to 10 years.

Myanmar is working on a system where Chinese visitors can get visas upon arrival.

“Vietnam should make a stronger effort in its overseas marketing activities by opening representative offices in the key markets we target,” said Koerner.

“Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia are doing that and if we want to compete with these countries for the same type of travelers, we must get better in our promotions and marketing.”

Source: vnExpress