Vietnam Drops Health Declarations to Welcome Back International Visitors
The United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recently reported that, as of mid-June 2022, a total of 52 countries have fully reopened to international travelers. Vietnam is one of the latest to do so, allowing all tourists to enter the country without being subject to quarantine, having to test for COVID, or producing proof of vaccination.
Americans Return to Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s southern economic hub, welcomed 130 US nationals in April. They constituted the largest international travel group to the city since the country’s government announced the decision to reopen to international tourists in March. Leo Liu, president of the travel firm organizing the tour, Citslinc International, Inc., said his company had received substantial assistance from Vietnamese authorities in making the tour possible. He is an ardent supporter of the country’s reopening process and says the Americans felt satisfied with their experience, proving the reopening is appropriate and effective. The dropping of COVID-related restrictions should see many more countries following suit.
Recovery Will Be Slow but Steady
Vietnam hosted 18 million visitors in 2019, but the country is hoping to achieve a target of 5 million for 2022 (a full recovery of the tourism industry can only be realistically expected by 2024). As many source markets remain restricted, a good portion of these visitors may come from other Asian countries.
Riad Asmat, CEO of low-cost airline AirAsia Malaysia, says the company has seen a marked increase in travel demand to Vietnam since the lifting of COVID restrictions. As a result, it has resumed direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Nha Trang and Da Lat. Each route will have two weekly flights, with fares costing about $40. AirAsia was suspended in April 2020 following the COVID outbreak, and Asmat says the resumption of commercial flights will help spark tourism in both Vietnam and Malaysia.
Radisson Hotel Group’s continued expansion in Vietnam indicates that it also believes tourism will return in full. The group’s latest signing is a brand-new 128-room upscale resort in Mui Ne, a popular beachside town close to Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam’s main international airport. A new highway connecting Mui Ne to Phan Thiet, which should be operational by the end of 2022, also heralds an uptick in the town’s popularity.
Hanoi’s Department of Tourism to Pull Out All the Stops
Vietnam’s capital is intent on reviving its tourism industry, and visitor numbers have almost tripled in the half-year to June compared to 2021 figures. Specifically, 8.6 million tourists, including some 211,000 international tourists, visited Hanoi, generating $1.08 billion for the capital and raising average hotel occupancy to over 30 percent.
Hanoi is home to over 20 official tourist destinations, ranging from the Military History Museum with its eclectic mix of planes, tanks, and weaponry, to several outlying artisan villages famous for their traditional craftwork. The Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, located in the capital’s center, was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. Built on the ruins of a seventh-century Chinese fort, it was the region’s political power seat for 13 centuries.
But now, Hanoi is offering new ways to entice visitors back, such as night tours of the Citadel, double-decker bus tours of the city, and a wet market program at the Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism in Son Tay township. Additionally, it’s launched several exhibitions, trade fairs, and festivals. It has also launched two tourism-related competitions: a photo competition and a gift design competition. Both the selected photos and products must meet exacting artistic criteria and display the rich and diverse culture and wealth of resources available to domestic and international tourists in Hanoi. They will also need to exhibit a diversity of available, traditional, environmentally-friendly, and safe materials and be suitable for mass production at reasonable prices.
By the end of 2022, Hanoi hopes to see a target of 10 million visitors, of which up to 2 million are predicted to be international. It hopes to see this number rise in 2023 to 12–14 million, with 2.5–3.5 million foreigners and revenue of up to $2.35 billion. By 2025, total visitors are expected to exceed 30 million, including 7 million international visitors, and generate more than $5.56 billion in revenue.