After two years of stagnation or limited growth, Vietnam tourism is back on track in 2016.
For the first nine months of the year (January to September), the country saw international visitor arrivals reach 7.27 million, a surge of 25.7% over the same period in 2015. Arrivals by air continue to lead growth at 6.11 million, up by 29.7%.
Many factors explain Vietnam’s excellent performance. While hotel companies, including international chains, continue to add properties all across the country, Vietnam also continues to experience a surge in international flights, especially with more low cost carriers boosting air capacity to GMS and ASEAN neighbours as well as China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
Forecasts recently released by IATA point to Vietnam as one of the ten fastest growing countries for air transport to 2035. IATA estimates that Vietnam will see passengers traffic grow from 38 million last year to 150 million per year within 20 years!
A more flexible visa policy is also bearing fruits. The number of tourists from the five European countries entitled to visa exemptions all showed double-digit growth, justifying the policy of free visas on arrival since 2015. Italy recorded growth of 31.1%, Spain (27.9%), the United Kingdom (23.1%), Germany (18.6%) and France (13.8%). These excellent performances should encourage Vietnamese authorities to further simplify visa formalities for more countries. The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and the USA could be next on the list.
Generally, all inbound markets are growing, driven by outperforming figures from Northeast Asia. Hong Kong is leading with a jump in arrivals of 79%, followed by China (57.7%) and South Korea (39.9%). Even more mature markets such as Taiwan and Japan recorded double-digit growth rates, up by 15.7% and 11.4% respectively.
For the first time, the Vietnam National Tourism Administration (VNAT) could see the symbolic ‘magic’ mark of 10 million international visitors passed. This may encourage authorities to provide more funds for promotion and continue to liberalise entrance conditions to the country.
Tourism revenue increased 20.2%, year-on-year, to VNĐ297.16 trillion (US$13.32 billion) in the first nine months. Receipts from international tourists accounted for $8 billion.
On the domestic front, tourism continues to grow. VNAT estimates that during the first nine months of the year, the number of domestic tourists reached 48.8 million, including 22.5 million overnight stays.