Vietnam Tourism Revival Boosted with Over 4.6 Million Foreign Tourists in Q1

Vietnam targets to serve approximately 18 million international arrivals and 110 million domestic tourists while expecting to earn around VND 840 trillion (USD 33.89 billion) from the sector this year.

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Vietnam logged over 4.6 million foreign tourist arrivals in the first quarter of this year, up 72% year-on-year, and 3.2% compared to the figure recorded in the same period of 2019 before the Covid-19 outbreak, the General Statistics Office (GSO) announced on March 29, VNA reported.

The GSO attributed the result to favorable visa policies, tourism stimulus programmes, and efforts made by local authorities and the sector.

Among the foreign arrivals, 83.6% have travelled to Vietnam by air, 13.5% by road and 2.9% by sea.

Revenue from accommodation and food services in the first quarter is estimated at VND 174.8 trillion (USD 6.98 billion), and from travel and tourism activities at VND 14.1 trillion (over USD 575 million), up 46.3% year-on-year.

In the period, 1.2 million Vietnamese people travelled abroad, a year-on-year rise of 11.5%.

In March alone, nearly 1.6 million international tourists have visited Vietnam, leading to a month-on-month increase of 4.4%.

Photo: Thanh Nien newspaper

This year, the tourism sector set targets of serving 18 million foreign tourists and 110 million domestic ones, and earning VND 850 trillion (USD 34.8 billion) from visitors.

To that end, the Vietnam National Authority of Tourism under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said that efforts will be made to carry out promotion activities, diversify products and services, and the tourism sector will coordinate with other sectors such as agriculture and industry to create products that increase the length of visitors’ stay in Vietnam and thus spending.

Vietnam now waives visas for travelers from 25 countries, with 13 enjoying unilateral exemption.

Since August 2023, Vietnam has issued e-visas for all nationalities and extended their maximum stay from 30 to 90 days, with unlimited entries. Those who get visa waivers under Vietnam’s unilateral exemption policy can now stay for 45 days rather than the earlier 15.

Experts have described the visa policies as a tool to sharpen the competitiveness of the domestic tourism industry. Thanks to them, Vietnam has become friendlier in the eyes of foreign holidaymakers.

According to the VNAT, Vietnam welcomed more than 3 million foreign tourists in the first two months of this year, up 68.75% year-on-year and equivalent to 98.5% of the pre-Covid level.

Photo: Pickvisa

In terms of source market, the strongest recovery was seen in Asia with a year-on-year rise of 77.8%, followed by Europe with a 76% increase; and Oceania, 36.5%.

The Southeast Asian region has experienced a fierce race in tourism with some strong competitors of Vietnam such as Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore rushing to waive visa requirements and simplify entry procedures for international tourists.

Given this, experts and tourism insiders share the view that Vietnam needs to further relax its visa policies to gain a competitive edge as compared with others in the region.

Specifically, Vietnam should unilaterally expand visa exemption for citizens of countries with a higher level of development, large tourism spending and long-term stays, while piloting visa exemption for short periods (from six to 12 months) for those from some promising, large-scale markets like China and India, they said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) is negotiating with 15 countries for mutual visa exemption, and with 80 others for exemption for diplomatic and official passport holders.

The ministry said it will step up negotiations and sign international treaties with a number of countries on visa exemption for ordinary passport holders.

The MoFA has also coordinated with the Ministry of Public Security to propose expanding the list of eligible countries for unilateral visa exemption, and improving infrastructure to facilitate e-visa granting.

Hannah Nguyen