Vietnam, Southeast Asia Tourism Star

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With close to 13 million international arrivals in 2017, Vietnam established a new tourism record last year and was the fastest growing tourism destination in ASEAN…

Tourism authorities in Vietnam had good reason to celebrate at the end of last year. 2017 will certainly remain in memory as an exceptional year in terms of tourism performance. In just one year, arrivals jumped by 29.1%, missing by a fraction the 13-million travellers mark.

The country recorded 12,922,121 international travellers, a performance that can be attributed to simplified entrance conditions for all travellers thanks to e-visa (40 countries can benefit of it), the abolition of visas for a few other countries in Europe (including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK) and the multiplication of air links. Growth by air was indeed strong, jumping by 32.1%. This is largely due to the increased frequency of flights to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang but also increasingly to secondary destinations. Nha Trang is emerging as an important holiday destination with regular charter flights from China, Russia and Korea. In recent months, low cost carrier Vietjet also launched international flights to Dalat and Haiphong, Bangkok Airways and AirAsia to Phu Quoc Island in the south offering alternative gateways for travellers. Air arrivals represented 84.5% of all arrivals last year.

Last but not least, relations with China improved considerably last year, giving a new impetus to tourist arrivals from Vietnam’s giant neighbour. Chinese travellers are (re)discovering the country with total numbers jumping by a whopping 48.6% in 2017. With four million visitors, China is the largest inbound market with a share of 31% of all total arrivals.

Other markets recording exceptional double-digit growth last year were South Korea, Russia and Taiwan, up respectively by 56.5%, 32% and 21%.

2018 looks ready to bring another stellar performance for Vietnam tourism. More flights are due to be opened; for example to the United States, with Vietnam Airlines due to fly to either Los Angeles or San Francisco.

An important event is the opening of a new international airport in Halong Bay. Due to be opened by the end of the year, it will offer a capacity for three million passengers. With a new convention centre and international chains moving into Halong Bay City, the area will not only be a major attraction for leisure travellers but also become a new destination for MICE organisers.

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