Vietnam emerging as Southeast Asia’s new tourist hot spot

 Thursday, July 6, 2023


Vietnam has fast become one of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia, as tourists enjoy the county’s diverse landscapes, beaches, mountainous rice terraces and bustling cities.

According to a report, Vietnam was the seventh most searched destination from March to June, and the only country in Southeast Asia in the top 20.

The popularity of Vietnam is showing in the number of international arrivals.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism announced in June that the country had welcomed over 5.5 million foreign visitors in the first six months of 2023, already exceeding the total number of international arrivals in 2022.

More tourist growth predicted for Vietnam

Vietnam’s tourist sector has set a target of 8 million visitors for the remainder of 2023, however, the tourism bureau has since predicted the numbers will likely rise to 10 million.

Bobby Nguyen, chairman of a tour agency, told a news agency that the boost is coming mainly from Chinese, Indian and Korean tourists.

China has reopened the outbound market to Vietnam and the Indian market has grown since 2022, he said.

Nguyen added that the use of social media and the influence of large travel groups have also helped boost Vietnam’s international popularity.

Having many online communication channels or promotion channels on networking channels is also the fastest way to promote Vietnam’s image to the world, he said.

Vietnam’s improved visa policy expected to boost tourism

Hanoi recently approved a new visa policy for international visitors arriving in the country, tripling visa waivers from 15 to 45 days for selected countries.

And for visitors from countries eligible to apply for an electronic visa to Vietnam, visas will now be valid for up to 90 days with single or multiple entries.

The changes will come into force on August 15.

Gary Bowerman, a tourism analyst based in Kuala Lumpur, said the visa changes will boost the tourism sector.

One of Vietnam’s selling points is that it’s a lesser-known destination, and it offers both tourism and business opportunities, said Bowerman.

Vietnam’s travel industry looks forward

For travel companies in Vietnam, the new visa policy and prospect of more international arrivals is exciting.

Fuse Hostels & Travel launched two hostels in the popular city of Hoi An late last year, but Lambert already believes his company is operating near to what pre-pandemic levels would have been.

He told that bookings are back to 2019 levels. They are seeing in the last three months a substantial uptick in the number of international guests staying in hostels.

Thailand still holds top spot

However, international arrivals into Vietnam are still way off pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, there were nearly 19 million international arrivals.

It means Vietnam has still some way to go if it’s going to rival tourism in Thailand, said Lambert.

Thailand is still getting more number growth. Thailand is the big player in the region, it’s going to take a long time for Vietnam to get to that level, he said.

Tourism operator Nguyen said Vietnam must improve in several areas to fully maximize its potential.

Thailand expects to reach 20 million visitors by the end of 2023.

However, Thailand’s tourism industry is aiming for a return to 2019 levels, when the country welcomed a record 39 million international arrivals.

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