International visit targets “ambitious but reachable”

March 25, 2022 | 14:33
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General director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism Nguyen Trung Khanh explained to VIR’s Hoang Oanh why he believes the tourism sector’s target of welcoming five million foreign visitors this year is reachable in the context that the country is applying suitable measures to accelerate post-pandemic recovery.

Is the goal of welcoming five million international visitors too ambitious while some potential markets such as China, Japan, and Russia still remain closed to tourists?

International visit targets “ambitious but reachable”
General director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism Nguyen Trung Khanh

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has advised and submitted to the government a tourism development programme for the 2022-2026 period, which divides the recovery and development roadmap of the tourism industry into phases.

Under the scheme, for 2022-2023, the sector needs resources, support, and investment from ministries and sectors to recover by 45-50 per cent compared to the pre-pandemic period. In the period, it aims to welcome about nine million foreign tourists compared to 18 million in 2019.

In the Northeast Asia region, while China is still standing firm on its pandemic policy, Japan and South Korea are also still hesitant to open their borders, but they already have more convenient policies for welcoming tourists and so it is feasible for us to quickly access these key markets.

Vietnam has already reopened tourism activities to Singapore and other ASEAN markets, while, Taiwan has also shown interest in Vietnam’s reopening.

For the Russian market and Eastern European countries, the number of visitors will be affected to a certain extent, but it is not large. Recently we have received guests from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and others. We also see positive signals through exchanges with tour operators exploiting tourists from these markets.

With the Australian and New Zealand markets, their policies to attract tourists have also begun to loosen. The visa policy and some flight routes to West European and US markets have also been restored.

With the positive efforts and engagement of businesses, ministries, sectors and localities, the target of five million foreign arrivals for 2022 is ambitious but still reachable. The Vietnamese tourism sector has set a target to serve 65 million visitors in 2022, including five million foreign visitors and 60 million domestic tourists, and revenue of about VND400 trillion ($17.5 billion).

On what basis does the tourism industry set this goal?

Vietnam fully reopened its border to tourists on March 15, with specific regulations for inbound and outbound tours. The reopening has shown positive signs. Since the beginning of January, the volume of international searches for information on Vietnam’s tourism and aviation services began rising from early December and skyrocketed later the same month and in early January.

Analytical data from Google Destination Insights showed that international searches for information on Vietnam’s tourism and aviation services hit 425 per cent on January 21.

According to the General Statistics Office, in the first two months of 2022, Vietnam welcomed 49,200 international visitors, up 71.7 per cent over the same period in 2021. The pilot programme to welcome international tourists launched in November last year also attracted more than 10,000 visitors.

Also in the first two months of 2022, the total number of domestic tourists reached about 17.6 million, the total revenue from tourists is estimated at more than VND41 trillion ($1.8 million), a big increase of 313 per cent over the same period in 2021.

The high number of domestic tourists along with a steady increase in the number of international visitors have confirmed that the recent safe tourism activities have been implemented in the right way, and Vietnam is ready for international tourism activities.

What does full reopening tourism activities mean for Vietnam and the industry?

Reopening of tourism activities by road, sea, rail, air and all border gates have been restored. Domestic tourists will not be restricted from any travel activities.

With international tourism activities, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) will coordinate with relevant ministries and agencies to finalise and issue the final plan to reopen tourism activities. We have restored the entire visa policy from March 15, exempting visas for citizens from 13 countries and territories.

However, up to now, only 15 countries in the world have recognised Vietnam’s vaccination certificate, making it difficult to bring Vietnamese tourists abroad and causing an imbalance in international air transport.

We will coordinate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and relevant agencies to increase the number of countries that recognise Vietnam’s vaccination certificates in the near future.

What messages will be delivered by the tourism industry to the international market during the reopening period?

This reopening is considered quite fierce competition in the new context. We will continue to promote the “Live fully in Vietnam” communication programme on official travel websites and all the top social networks, and through international media and Vietnamese representative offices overseas.

In addition, we and the MCST will participate in major international tourism fairs in key markets and promote “Live fully in Vietnam” on prestigious international channels, to promote Vietnamese tourism to target markets.

Safety is still the most important criterion for international and domestic travel activities. Therefore, for both domestic and foreign promotion programmes, we always uphold the role of localities and businesses in pandemic prevention according to the regulations of the Ministry of Health.

By Hoang Oanh

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