Vietnam’s tourism industry has been hit hard this year as the country restricts foreign entry and allows arrival on a case-by-case basis, leading to a sharp drop in number of international arrivals by up to 78.7% against 2019. 

 Hoan Kiem lake, the heart of the capital, is one of the most favorite destinations for international tourists. Photos: Ngoc Tu – Duy Khanh

In December only, the number of foreign visitors to Vietnam reached 16,300, down 8.1% month-on-month and 99% inter-annually, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO). The country welcomed an estimated 3.8 million international arrivals in 2020, most of them are diplomats, business executives and high-skilled laborers.

Arrivals by air dropped 78.6% year-on-year to around 3.1 million, accounting for 80.3% of the total, while 609,400 people came by road, down 81.9% and the number of those arriving by sea declined 45.2%. 

In 2020, Asian visitors still accounted for the majority of total tourist inflows, with nearly 2.8 million, 80.4% less than last year. Visitors from Europe totaled 671,900, plummeting 69%. Those from the Americas totaled 236,500, plunging 75.7%; from Oceania 102,800 (-76.2%); from Africa 12,500 (-73.9%). 

 Source: GSO, 2020. Chart: Nhat Minh

Total 2020 revenue of travel companies was VND17.9 trillion (US$768.8 million), decreasing 59.5% compared to 2019. Particularly, the tourism revenue of some cities and provinces falls sharply, such as Khanh Hoa (a drop of 85.1%), Quang Nam (-78.7%), Ho Chi Minh City (-76.7%), Danang (-73.3%), Ba Ria – Vung Tau (-64.3%), Binh Duong (-60.1%), among others.

In 2019, the number of inbound tourists to Vietnam reached an all-time high of more than 18 million, contributing to a total tourism revenue of VND720 trillion (US$30.8 million).