Insiders have suggested ways to remove the bottlenecks for international travel to Vietnam, helping to take full advantage of the post-pandemic travel market.
According to the latest figures from the General Statistics Office, in the first seven months of this year, Vietnam's tourism sector hailed a total of 71.8 million locals, surpassing its full-year estimate.
However, the number of foreign visitors who arrived in Vietnam during the period only numbered around 955,000, reaching just 15 per cent of the 5-million target for this year.
|The tourism sector aims to welcome five million foreign visitors in 2022 |
Cao Tri Dung, chairman of privately-held travel firm Vietnam Travel-Mart, has attributed the modest figures to the resurgence of new COVID-19 variants, leading to stagnation in several major travel markets.
“South Korea had intended to open frequent flights to Vietnam. This, however, has slowed down due to the new variants. Regarding several other key markets, China has continued its zero-COVID policy and Japan and Taiwan have not fully relaxed since the pandemic broke out in these countries,” Dung argued.
CEO of Van Hai Xanh Travel and chairman of the Community Tourism Association Pham Hai Quynh pointed to the obstacles associated with several countries that require detailed tour itineraries to be in place.
In addition, the prolonged pandemic drained travellers’ budgets and this combines with other factors such as soaring fuel costs.
Dinh Ngoc Duc, general director of the Tourism Market Department under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), however, noted that positive signs were spotted monthly in relation to international travel since Vietnam reopened the door to international visitors on March 15.
Along with that, the average growth in international travel over the past seven months reached 62 per cent monthly.
|The prolonged pandemic drained travellers’ budgets and this combines with other factors such as soaring fuel costs. |
“In the year to date, based on Google Destination Insights figures, Vietnam is constantly in the list of top destinations worldwide with growth ranging from 50-75 per cent. Searches for accommodation and international flights heading to the country have risen by 60-75 per cent,” said Duc.
However, Duc said that whether or not visitors return to Vietnam will depend on the quality of tours in the country.
Duc stressed the need for the tourism sector to bolster its competitiveness through ramping up efforts to raise the quality of staff training, enhancing the efficiency of destination management and tourism infrastructure, and ensuring the availability of attractive offerings that cater to customers' tastes.
Many experts and travel firms have voiced their concerns about the bottleneck with the current visa limitations that are hindering international travel to Vietnam.
Currently, Vietnam only allows visa exemptions for citizens from 13 countries for a duration of 15 days despite heightened visitor interest.
“Many opinions have been suggested to extend the visa exemption duration to 30 days or to waive visas for visitors travelling from six months to one year to attract this deep-pocketed visitor flow,” said Duc from VNAT.
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To reach the target of greeting five million foreign visitors this year, the VNAT envisages re-connecting with all the markets with open policies for residents to travel, such as Europe, the US, Australia, and several newly-emerging markets in the Middle East and India.
This year the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has pressed into service the Tourism Development Support Fund and is set to host several major promotion programmes – such as the Live Fully in Vietnam programme – on a national level to focus on key markets within Vietnam’s tourism industry.
By Hanh Thuy