Vietnam was one of the first Asian countries to open for tourism after COVID. However, its target to welcome international tourists failed as there were just about 3.5 million arrivals this year. The set target was 5 million. Meanwhile, other countries in Southeast Asia have completed, or even exceeded their targets.
Based on The Outbox Company’s data in Q4 2022 about international market profile, the level of awareness of foreign tourists about the country is low. This is also one of the reasons why Vietnam’s goal of welcoming foreign visitors has not been completed.
COVID-19 impact to inbound markets to Vietnam
From 2015 – 2019, before the pandemic, the number of international visitors to Vietnam continuously increased. Tourism revenue from the inbound market during this period grew by an average of 21.1% every year.
In 2019 alone, Vietnam welcomed 18 million foreign visitors, a growth of 16.2%. The key international tourist markets to Vietnam at this time include Northeast Asia (67%), Europe (12%), Southeast Asia (11%), and America (6%). The rest are other Asian countries and Australia.
The national tourism industry was expected to continue to develop, then the COVID-19 pandemic strongly hit. In 2020, Vietnam welcomed 3.8 million international visitors. Tourism revenue downed from 539 trillion VND (in 2019) to 277 trillion VND (in 2020).
Low awareness about Vietnam
It sounds absurd, but the level of awareness about Vietnam of Japanese, Taiwanese and South Korean tourists is on average low, even though they account for the highest proportion of international visitors to Vietnam. Specifically, the level of awareness about Vietnam of this group just reached 4.1/7 points.
It can be seen that travelers from Japan, Taiwan and South Korea have not really approached the image of Vietnam as a tourist destination. They travel overseas to relax after the pandemic and tend to go with their families. And Vietnam is one of the most suitable options with cheap cost, convenient transportation, beautiful landscape, nice weather, or safety. These are the top factors for them to decide to go abroad.
In addition to the above things, they do not seem to know much about Vietnamese culture, history, cuisine or national identities. This is exactly what Vietnam needs to improve in its tourist products/programs.
According to experts, besides low-quality products, the visa policy has many shortcomings, which is also a big reason why Vietnam has not met the goal of welcoming international visitors.
Complicated procedures, short stay allowance or only one-time entry are said to be visa barriers for visitors to Vietnam. Meanwhile, other Southeast Asian countries launched the “golden visa” programs with stays up to 10 or 20 years and many benefits to attract visitors.
Another reason is the shortage of human resources, facilities and capital in tourism services such as travel, hotels, restaurants,… After 2 years of prolonged pandemic, all had to start over and haven’t been ready to welcome international guests back yet.
Moreover, the slow reopening of two large inbound markets such as China and Russia also affects Vietnam’s tourism. The good news is that China will reopen from January 8, 2023. Vietnam needs to quickly grasp the chance to change the game.
From The Outbox Company’s data, and experiences from neighboring countries, we should be more relaxed in visa policy, invest more to make tourist products/services/programs attractive,… to reach the target of 8 million international visitors by 2023.