Measures proposed to sustainably attract international visitors

June 10, 2022 | 09:50
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Despite the relaxation of travel restrictions, more work is needed to help the nation attract international tourists post-pandemic.
Measures proposed to sustainably attract international visitors
Vietnam aims to welcome five million international visitors in 2022

Figures by the General Statistics Office show that in the first five months of this year, foreign visitors coming to Vietnam rose 4.5-fold on-year and revenue from travel jumped by almost 35 per cent during the period.

On April 27, Vietnam temporarily suspended the medical declarations that were previously required for foreign arrivals upon entering the country, and from May 15, it temporarily suspended testing requirements for foreign arrivals.

However, in its quick report about welcoming international visitors in the year to date, the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) pointed out a number of factors that are hindering the target of greeting five million foreign visitors in 2022.

Fewer than 230,000 foreign visitors came in the first five months – a modest figure compared to the full-year target.

Soaring service prices and hotels and restaurants not being fully recovered have negatively affected Vietnam’s efforts to entice foreign visitors so far this year.

Pham Tien Dung, CEO of travel firm Golden Tour stated that, compared to several other countries in the region, Vietnam was quicker in fully opening its doors to tourism activities but lacked concrete action to revive visitors’ trust.

Regional peers like Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia, however, worked on promotion plans months earlier to lure in visitors – even though they opened for international travel several days later than Vietnam.

Our regulations on dropping mandatory testing also followed suit with other countries.

Dung argued that post-pandemic, visitors did not mull over travel plans months in advance as they did in the past, they simply prioritised choosing countries with open visa policies.

“The current 15-day visa regulation is causing headaches for visitors and businesses. In fact, we have visitor groups wanting to travel to Vietnam for 18-20 days to play golf. However, they still await a response related to the visa issue,” said Dung.

Along with this, soaring service prices and hotels and restaurants not being fully recovered have negatively affected Vietnam’s efforts to entice foreign visitors.

“The number of units providing travel services and related manpower has only recovered by about 50 per cent compared to before the lockdowns,” Dung added.

The comments from Golden Tour’s CEO are similar to TAB’s report which reflects that visa exemption is an essential step, as it helps allure foreign visitors. This policy is even more important than tax and other financial incentives.

Hoang Nhan Chinh, head of the TAB Secretariat, was quoted as saying “We propose extending visa exemption to visitors from countries like the US, India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands. This will help the tourism sector to diversify and reduce dependence on several particular markets.”

Chinh added that to appeal to international visitors, it is important to solidify their trust – particularly in key markets through broad promotion campaigns and interviews with foreign media agencies.

The TAB also proposed forming a special multi-member task force with direct online management.

The task force’s core functions would be regularly updating information on the travel industry to facilitate timely decision making, supporting the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism by making monthly reports for submission to the government, and sharing proposals with relevant ministries, sectors, and localities to improve regulations for international travel.

By Hanh Thuy

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