Vietnam a laggard in international tourism recovery: report

The number of foreign visitors to Vietnam this year is forecast to see a drop of 77% against 2019, the year before the onset of the pandemic, according to a report released by leading travel data & analytics company ForwardKeys.

Hong Kong posts the world’s slowest recovery for the year at an estimated 95% drop, followed by Japan (89%), Russia (88%) and South Korea (80%). Malaysia and New Zealand are expected to witness a drop of 76%, while Thailand, one of the first countries in Southeast Asia to reopen its tourism industry, is likely to see a 75% decrease over 2019.

ForwardKeys analyzed the level of tourism recovery of 100 destinations across the world based on its actual air tickets data, the most comprehensive source of tickets booked globally.

All tickets issued until October 18, 2022 and those for future travel were included to show the travel results for the full year. Tourist arrivals are counted based on at least one day’s stay at return tickets staying at least one night in the destination.

According to the report, Dominican Republic leads the world in international tourism recovery, witnessing a 5% increase in visitor arrivals against 2019. Turkey, Mexico and Costa Rica have seen their international tourism bounce back to 2019 levels.

“The least-recovered global region in 2022 is the Asia Pacific, which is to be expected given the late reopening of many of its destinations and China’s ongoing closure,” the report said.

Mainland China was not ranked as it has not been opened to international tourists.

Until China’s outbound travel market is fully reactivated, regional destinations that used to heavily depend on Chinese tourists before the pandemic will need to shift their attention to other important markets, experts have observed.

Vietnam opened its doors partially to foreign tourists with tour packages to specific destinations in November 2021, before fully opening up on March 15.

However, it is only issuing 30-day, single entry visas to date, and both tourists and tourism businesses have called for reverting to offering three-month multi-entry visas.

Since reopening its borders and lifting most Covid restrictions, Vietnam has earned tourism revenues of US$16.5 billion, Ha Van Sieu, deputy head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said at a meeting last week.

Vietnam received over 2.35 million foreign visitors in January-October, less than half of this year’s five-million target.

In 2019, the year before the pandemic, the country had welcomed a record 18 million foreign visitors and earned tourism revenues of VND750 trillion ($30 billion).

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