Provinces urged to diversify markets for tourism revival

March 07, 2022 | 11:32
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Events in Ukraine could have a knock-on effect on Vietnam’s tourism market, with the sharp increase in oil prices set to negatively affect the profit margin of airlines. The impacts are believed to be short-lived, however, as airlines are finding alternative options to avoid conflict areas and diversify offerings
Provinces urged to diversify markets for tourism revival
Provinces urged to diversify markets for tourism revival

Vietnam Airlines has reportedly implemented plans to bypass airspace over Ukraine and Belarus to preserve its Vietnam to Europe flights. Likewise, Bamboo Airways has announced a modification to its Hanoi-Frankfurt route, which was restarted on February 25.

Kenneth Atkinson, vice chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board, assessed that the recent sanctions against Russia from accessing international payment systems and the depreciation of its currency will certainly lead to a dip in the number of Russian tourists. However, in Vietnam, the impact is localised.

“There is no question that the sanction will impact some specific markets like Mui Ne, Nha Trang, and to a lesser extent, Phu Quoc, but we have to remember that in 2019, Russia only accounted for 650,000 inbound tourists out of a total 18 million, so I do not expect the overall impact to be that great,” Atkinson told VIR.

The latest market strategy report by brokerage VNDirect noted, “With Russian passengers accounting for roughly 5 per cent of the international total before the pandemic, temporary suspension of commercial flights to/from Russia and Ukraine may have a slight influence on the recovery of international tourism.”

In provinces like Khanh Hoa and Binh Thuan, tourism businesses are still optimistic that Russian tourists would find Vietnam an attractive holiday destination, even with the devalued Russian ruble. In addition, as European and North American countries apply more embargoes on Russia, Asian countries may become more appealing to Russian tourists.

Atkinson believes there could be a potential silver lining for the sector amidst the geopolitical tensions. “The downturn in Russian-related tours can be a good opportunity for most affected places to diversify their markets,” he elaborated.

Likewise, Bui Quoc Dai, head of Operations at Khanh Hoa-based group Anex Vietnam added, “If the exchange rate gets back to its stable level, airlines and travel/accommodation businesses can explore subsidising options or promotion plans for other markets.”

Provinces like Khanh Hoa are attractive to tourists because of low-cost services and relaxed travel policies. Currently, a number of travel companies are focusing on countries with direct flights to Vietnam, with Moscow previously being a big market. The province has welcomed 6,000 Russian tourists since last November. However, in 2022, Khanh Hoa now aims to welcome 40,000 visitors from diverse points of departure, of which South Korea, Japan, and Malaysia are the major markets.

As for the country’s tourism recovery as a whole, experts believe that regulations and protocols need to be set in place, with flexible adjustments based on the progression of both the Russian-Ukraine conflict and the ongoing pandemic.

“We need to make sure that the regulations and protocols are enabling and facilitating inbound travel, and that we do not inadvertently allow technical barriers such as quarantine requirements to adversely impact what we are trying to achieve, which is encouraging tourists to return to Vietnam,” Atkinson suggested. “In addition, we need to have focused marketing campaigns for target markets to let people know we are again open for business.”

By Le Linh

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