Expanding the visa-free market and removing the requirement for rapid testing for guests entering Vietnam are the solutions that need to be done immediately for the international tourism market to truly recover.
The report of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism shows that a number of key tourism localities have welcomed international visitors with positive initial signs during the past 30/4 – 1/5 holiday.
Not as much as expected
Specifically, international visitors to Vietnam in April 2022 reached 101,400 arrivals, 2.4 times higher than the previous month and 5.2 times higher than the same period last year. Generally, in the first four months of the year, international visitors to our country reached nearly 192,400 arrivals, up 184.7% over the same period. However, this number is not much compared to the expectation after nearly 2 months, Vietnam officially opened completely to international tourism.
Many tourism businesses that welcome international guests said that this is not the peak time for tourists to travel to Vietnam, but it is the season when visitors start planning to go on a tour at the end of the year.
Nguyen Huu Y Yen, General Director of Saigontourist Travel Service Company, said that the company is working with foreign partners to update all product information, tour routes, welcome policies… with new partners to build products and offer them for sale. Enterprises also participate in international tourism promotion fairs and do marketing. The main markets that the company focuses on are traditional markets such as Europe, Southeast Asia, the US, Australia, Japan… Particularly, the Chinese market is the main source of cruise passengers for Saigontourist, but the country is currently straining against the epidemic, so it is still difficult.
“Management agencies need to step up advertising, promotion and information to the outside so that international tourists and other countries know that Vietnamese tourism is safe and ready to welcome visitors back. the world to compete with other destinations that are gradually opening because it is not always possible to have customers when opening the door”, Mr. Yen said.
Mr. Nguyen Quang Trung – Head of Development Planning Department, Vietnam Airlines – said that the regulation that requires passengers to be tested before the flight more or less causes anxiety and arises procedures. Some countries and territories that are the main markets of Vietnam still maintain some restrictions on entry. Passengers’ cautious sentiment remains after the pandemic.
“Before the epidemic, it is estimated that more than 70% of international visitors to Vietnam are tourists, this group of visitors usually needs at least 2-3 months to launch, promote, offer tours… Notably, the issuance of new visas to Vietnamese citizens of other countries in the current period is still limited in terms of quantity, subjects and granting time,” said Mr. Trung.
Tests and visas are the drag?
Mr. Nguyen Chau A, Director of Oxalis Company, cited: On May 6, Tan Son Nhat airport had about 30-40 international flights, a very modest number. The number of international flights has increased but not much, reflecting that international visitors to Vietnam have not really increased sharply.
“The visa policy that is being applied and requiring guests to have a quick test or PCR before coming to Vietnam is making our destination less competitive, because guests will choose a country that does not require testing to go. With e-visa, although there is a policy to restore, now tourists who want to get an e-visa must have an invitation letter from a travel agency after buying a tour. These are factors that make international visitors hesitate and maybe they will choose another destination in the region,” said Mr. Nguyen Chau A.
Therefore, businesses simultaneously proposed to expand the visa-free market compared to before the Covid-19 epidemic and open up the visa process to stimulate the demand of international tourists to Vietnam.
A breakthrough visa policy to create a competitive advantage for the tourism industry and also show respect to visitors, increasing the visa-free period to 30 days, entering and leaving many times for Western European countries, expanding visa-free countries to target markets such as the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand…