Monthly figures recovering but still down year-on-year.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Vietnam in October stood at 649,099, a 3.6 per cent increase against September and 11.6 per cent higher year-on-year, according to the General Statistics Office. This was the forth consecutive month tourist numbers increased compared to the same month last year after falling for 13 months in succession.
The total for the first ten months, however, was down 4.1 per cent compared to the same period last year, at 6.3 million. Of these, 5.2 million arrived by air, falling 6.7 per cent year-on-year. Those arriving by sea totaled 40,485, an 11.5 per cent decline, while 1.1 million arrived overland, a 16.8 per cent decline year-on-year.
In October the number of Cambodian tourists fell the most, by 47 per cent, followed by those from Thailand, Laos and China, by 22.9 per cent, 22.2 per cent, and 14.7 per cent, respectively. However, compared to September, the number of Chinese, Lao, and Thai tourists increased significantly, by 22 per cent, 21.7 per cent and 36.2 per cent, respectively.
In the first ten months South Korean tourist numbers rose by a significant 30.7 per cent compared to the same period of 2014, while those from Hong Kong increased 28 per cent. Tourist numbers from Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, and the US recorded growth of 11.6 per cent, 8.7 per cent, 10.2 per cent, and 7.9 per cent, respectively.
Markets with visa exemptions, such as Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK, increased by 19 per cent, 22.3 per cent, 20.3 per cent, and 28.4 per cent, respectively, compared to September. This indicates the success of efforts from the government to promote tourism development.
However, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), a number of tourists from these markets are living, working, or traveling in the region and decided to come to Vietnam when news of the exemptions was announced.
Most domestic travel agencies said that the policy has not been effective as yet. “The visa exemptions are only for 15 days, while most international tourists tend to stay in Vietnam for about 20-30 days,” the Deputy Director of HG Travel, Ms. Nguyen Thi Tuyet, said. “It’s a long-haul destination for European tourists and they plan their trip a year in advance, so the policy would not have affected their decision.”
To boost the number of international tourists, the Ministry of Finance issued Circular No. 157/2015/TT-BTC recently, on the collection, management, and use of fees for passports, visas, and papers for entry, exit, transit, and residence in Vietnam. The circular features many changes relating to foreigners and overseas Vietnamese. Single-entry visas have been cut from $45 to $25, to conform to the government’s policy of encouraging tourism activities and bringing visa fees into line with those of other countries in the region. Multiple-entry visas for periods of less than three months are now $50, down from $95, which are generally issued to people attending conferences and seminars or traveling.
In addition, until the end of the year VNAT will organize a series of events to promote tourism abroad to strengthen the country’s attractiveness internationally.