Having lived in Vietnam since the 1980s, Kenneth Atkinson, president of Grant Thorton Vietnam, said the number of foreign travelers to Vietnam is increasing rapidly, but most of them do not return again.
Atkinson, when comparing Vietnam and Thailand’s tourism, said it took Vietnam less time to increase the number of foreign travelers to tens of million. However, a high number of foreign travelers want to come back to Thailand, while very few want to return to Vietnam.
He made the comment at the Private Economic Forum held recently, saying that Vietnam still needs to do many things to persuade foreign travelers to return.
A survey conducted by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) which was released in mid-2018 showed that 60 percent of travelers came to Vietnam for the first time and 40 percent for the second and subsequent times.
An unofficial survey released in 2014 showed that only 6-10 percent of foreign travelers come back.
At Vietnam Tourism Forum 2018, participants heard that less than 10 percent have come back.
Poor tourism promotions and an unfriendly visa policy are cited as the reasons. The participants at the private economic forum, describing the visa policy as ‘cumbersome and not tourism-friendly’, said the visa fee must be more reasonable and Vietnam should consider waiving visas for potential markets. If so, Vietnam will lose
revenue from visa fee, but it will get hundreds of million of dollars in revenue from travelers’ spending in Vietnam.
Also complaining about visa policy, a director of a travel firm said that embassies interpret visa policy in different ways, so the policy still doesn’t have transparency, which is an important factor to attract tourists.
“Some travelers said they knew about visa waiver applied only after they arrived in HCMC,” the director said.
Nguyen Thi Huyen, CEO of Vietrantour, agrees that the visa policy plays a very important role in attracting foreign travelers.
She pointed out that Vietnam is below Malaysia and Thailand in the number of countries enjoying visa waivers. Though the procedures for visas have been simplified, many problems still exist.
To obtain visas at border gates, for example, foreign travelers still have to follow necessary procedures prior to arriving. In Thailand, travelers just need to show photos, passports, air tickets and some documents to get visas at border gates.
According to a report on Vietnamnet