Vietnam received more than 950,000 tourists in the first seven months of 2022, a significant 897% increase from the same period last year. Of the total foreign arrivals, 638,338 were from Asia.
In July alone, the country received 352,600 foreign arrivals, up 49% over the previous month and 47.2 times higher than the figure recorded last year. In the period, revenue generated from tourism hit 509.85 million USD (11.9 trillion VND).
The scrapping of COVID-19 requirements and the resumption of visa-free entry for Asian passport holders are driving tourists back into the country after a two-year border closure. Vietnam currently offers at least 14-day visa-free travel for Asian tourists, including those from Brunei, Myanmar, the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore.
South Korean tourists, who are allowed 15-day leisure stay in Vietnam, have also been seen as the driving force behind tourism recovery. South Koreans currently lead overall foreign arrivals in Vietnam, with more than 56,500 visitors coming in from January to May, a 3.3 times increase from last year.
The resumption of direct flights from major Asian cities to Vietnam has made it easier for tourists to book a trip to Vietnam. As of the latest, direct commercial services to Jakarta, Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Siem Reap, Bangkok, Manila, and Phnom Penh from tourist hotspots Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Danang, and Nha Trang have already recommenced.
However, while the number of foreign arrivals is steadily increasing, Vietnam’s tourism industry may have to wait a little longer before it can completely bounce back. Key markets such as China and Japan, and Taiwan are still relatively closed off, hindering their citizens from outbound travel.
Vietnam, like most Asian nations, is heavily dependent on Chinese tourists. In 2019, Vietnam got more than a 30% share of tourist inflows from China, per the Economist Intelligence Unit statistics.
As part of its effort to maintain a dynamic zero-COVID approach, China has kept its international flights at just 2.2% of pre-COVID levels.
“The stringent return quarantine measures that are likely throughout most of 2022 is a strong deterrent for outbound Chinese tourists, which will slow tourism recovery in markets such as Cambodia and Vietnam,” the EIU report added.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is also halting the flow of Russian tourists in Nha Trang and Mui Ne.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) has proposed diversifying the tourism market. With direct air routes also resumed for India, Australia, the Middle East, and Europe, attractive travel packages can be used to lure in travelers from these countries.
Travel experts have also suggested visa exemption or, at least, better visa policies for these potential tourism markets. Citizens from Germany, Finland, the UK, Spain, Sweden, Belarus, Denmark, Italy, France, and Norway are the only non-ASEAN countries allowed a limited visa-free stay in Vietnam.
Travelers from 80 countries, including Australians and Indians, can apply online for a tourist e-Visa.
Vietnam targets five million arrivals this year, around 30% of the number in 2019. VNAT general director Nguyen Trung Khanh said it would also encourage Vietnamese expats to return to the homeland to accelerate travel recovery.