Numbers up in November year-on-year for the fifth consecutive month.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Vietnam in November stood at 732,740, a 12.9 per cent increase against October and 20.4 per cent higher year-on-year, according to Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT). This was the fifth consecutive month tourist numbers increased compared to the same month last year, after falling for 13 months in succession.
The total for the first eleven months, however, was down slightly, by 2 per cent, compared to the same period last year, at 7 million. Of these, 5.6 million arrived by air, unchanged year-on-year, while those arriving by sea totaled 40,609, a 3.6 per cent decline, and 1.3 million arrived overland, a 9.3 per cent decline.
In November the number of Cambodian tourists fell the most year-on-year, by 43.7 per cent, followed by those from Laos, Thailand and China, by 29.4 per cent, 27.9 per cent, and 20.1 per cent, respectively. Compared to October, however, the number of Chinese, Lao, and Thai tourists increased significantly, by 35.6 per cent, 54.6 per cent and 49.8 per cent, respectively.
In the first eleven months Hong Kong tourist numbers rose the most compared to the same period of 2014, by 35.5 per cent, followed by those from South Korea, at 30.5 per cent. Tourist numbers from Singapore, Taiwan, and the US recorded growth of 16.5 per cent, 12 per cent, and 9 per cent, respectively.
Markets with visa exemptions, such as the UK, Italy, Sweden and Denmark, increased by 33 per cent, 28.8 per cent, 25.6 per cent and 15.1 per cent, respectively, compared to October, indicating the government efforts at promoting tourism development are finding some success.
Most domestic travel agencies, however, said the policy is yet to have any great effect. “The visa exemptions are only for 15 days, while most international tourists tend to stay in Vietnam for 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.”
VNAT also explained that 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.
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. For example, single-entry visas have been cut from $45 to $25 while 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.
With this growth, Vietnam’s tourism industry will achieve the target of becoming a key economic sector by 2020 if the global political and economic situation remains stable, according to a report released by Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Tuan Anh on the tourism development strategy to 2020 and vision to 2030.
For this year Vietnam targets welcoming 7 to 7.5 million international tourists and 36 to 37 million domestic tourists, with total revenue to reach $10 to $11 billion, contributing 5.5 to 6 per cent in GDP. Total stays are to be 390,000 rooms, with 30 to 35 per cent being three to five stars, employing 620,000 people directly and a total of 2.2 million directly and indirectly.