THE NUMBER of foreign tourists visiting Vietnam remains relatively low due to the absence of tourists from China and Japan.
The two countries were major tourism markets for Vietnam before the Covid-19 pandemic brought all travel to a halt with border closures.
The Vn Express daily reports deputy tourism minister Doan Van Viet saying the country’s tourism industry was now seeking other ways to attract more foreigners into the country.
He said the number of foreign arrivals was relatively low despite Vietnam having allowed quarantine-free entry into the country since March 15.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism said the country received about 15,000 foreign tourists in March.
It was 10 times higher than the previous month, when entry was permitted with quarantine.
According to Viet, travel agencies need more time to connect with the foreign markets as tourism activities have been stopped over the last two years.
“The peak travel season for international tourists will be from this October to April next year. We expect the number of foreign visitors to rise in the coming days,” he was reported to have said.
Governmental news portals said Viet noted that attracting more foreign visitors at this time will be a difficult task because Northeast Asia accounted for 70 per cent of Vietnam’s total foreign tourist arrivals before the pandemic.
Chinese visitors numbered some 5.8 million in 2019, making them the biggest market.
However, China is still pursuing a zero-Covid policy with lockdown measures and strict entry restrictions.
Japan is Vietnam’s third largest tourism market but it is imposing quarantine regulations on visitors or those returning from abroad.
Japan has been easing its border controls and travel advisories, and the tourism market hopes this will spur more travel.
The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has also directly affected some Vietnamese localities that are popular with Russian tourists.
Among those affected are Khanh Hoa, home to the beach and bay towns of Nha Trang and Cam Ranh.
Vietnam Airlines had suspended its regular flight between Hanoi and Moscow starting March 28 and some Vietnamese tour operators have temporarily suspended bringing in Russian tourists due to Western sanctions imposed on Russia.
The deputy minister said the tourism industry should promote visa, medical and immigration policies and work with Vietnamese diplomatic missions abroad to attract more tourists.
He said this was needed to ensure more people overseas will be aware of Vietnam’s tourism reopening policies.
Since the reopening, Vietnam has also resumed its pre-pandemic visa exemption policy for citizens from 24 countries, including Japan, South Korea and some European countries.
Foreigners entering Vietnam now only need to furnish a negative Covid-19 test certificate on arrival.
In 2019, before the pandemic struck, Vietnam saw a record arrival of 18 million foreign tourists.
The government hopes to see five to six million foreign tourists this year.
Source: New Straits Times