The attraction of foreign arrivals has yet to meet expectations
Annual goal out of reach?
The country officially welcomed the return of foreign visitors on March 15 when the Prime Minister decided to reopen the country’s borders. However, it attracted around 414,000 foreign travelers in the first six months of the year, a moderate figure compared to the 60.8 million domestic holidaymakers the tourism industry served throughout the reporting period.
Reception services for foreign travelers are again operational in the main tourist attractions of the country. In addition, domestic and foreign airlines have resumed international routes connecting Vietnam with Japan, India, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Singapore and countries in Europe.
A Vietnam Airlines representative noted that with the COVID-19 outbreak under control and travel restrictions eased in many countries, travel demand is starting to show signs of improvement. Vietnam Airlines, for example, resumed around 55% of international routes compared to 2019 and saw a gradual increase in international passenger numbers.
Despite these improvements, the reception of foreign visitors is still below expectations, especially since the figure of 414,000 foreign arrivals in the first half represents only 10% of the objective of approximately 5 million receptions for this year.
Nguyen Ngoc Toan, Director of Images Travel, recently told the Nguoi Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper that travelers, especially those from Europe, have decided to tighten their belts due to the impact of air travel prices. gasoline and oil, coupled with high inflation in their markets, having a direct impact on travel costs.
Records from a number of European travel agencies indicate that tourists’ habit of choosing destinations has changed, with many choosing nearby destinations rather than traveling to other markets such as South East Asia, including Vietnam, Toan said.
In addition, despite the reopening of international airline routes to Europe, flight frequency during the week remains low, making it difficult for travelers to book tickets, the executive explained, adding that high prices tickets have also affected the price of tours offered to international customers. .
High expectations for the second half
Tour operators shared the view that Vietnam will struggle to meet its target of receiving five million foreign visitors this year, and they speculated that the government would adjust the target.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism played down concerns and said it would not revise the figure, saying it had high hopes for the market to develop in the second half of this year. especially since it is generally high season to welcome foreign visitors.
“Our main task in this period is to create new products, deploy relaunch and marketing campaigns, develop human resources and improve the quality of services,” said the Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Doan Van Viet.
Vu The Binh, chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, shared Vice Minister Viet’s view that good preparations in the remaining months of the year could see Vietnam attract five million visitors.
“One of the obstacles preventing international visitors from entering Vietnam is the difficult visa policy. Indeed, the 15-day visa waiver policy as it is currently applied is very difficult for customers. to enter, stay a long time and spend a lot. Therefore, it is necessary to continue to improve the visa policy,” Binh suggested.
Meanwhile, Hoang Nhan Chinh, head of the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) Secretariat, suggested the country should step up its marketing campaign to further popularize it as a safe and attractive destination.
He pointed to the fact that about 70% of international visitors return to Thailand due to effective marketing, while the rate in Vietnam is only 25%. Additionally, foreign visitors spend an average of US$2,500 in Thailand compared to only US$1,200 in Vietnam for a nine-day stay.
According to tour operators, several major international tourism fairs are often held in France and the UK in the second half of the year, which provides Vietnam with an opportunity to promote tourism. It is widely believed that investing in marketing will help Vietnam attract more international visitors in the future.