According to the General Statistics Office (GSO), Vietnam received a record12.9 million foreign visitors in 2017, an increase of 29.1% over 2016. Here’s the data:
• 10.9 million tourists arrived by airplane
• 1.8 million tourists came by land
• 258,000 tourists came by sea
• 9.7 million tourists were from Asia – a 34.4% increase
• 4.0 million tourists were from China – a 48.6% increase
• 1.8 million tourists were from Europe
• 817,000 tourists were from the Americas
• 421,000 tourists were from Australia
• 36,000 tourists were from Africa
The GSO also noted that domestic tourism increased with 73 million domestic travellers in 2017 and that the total revenue from tourism activities is estimated to be $22.4 billion USD (510 trillion VND).
At a meeting of the State Steering Committee on Tourism that was held at the end of December, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said that the strong results of the tourism industry this year contributed to the growth of the service sector and promoted the development of other sectors.
Deputy Prime Minister Dam also said the strong growth of international tourism in 2017 was due to a number of factors, including the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) participating in a number of international tourism and travel fairs with an increase of activities planned for 2018.
In addition, the pilot program for electronic visas for citizens of 40 countries into Vietnam has been deemed successful. And visa exemptions for five Western European countries have made Vietnam a more attractive destination and increased tourists from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom by an average of 20 ~ 30% per country.
Vietnam’s “brand” and position in the international tourism industry has increased on the world market and it is now among the top 10 tourism destinations as number 6, with the fastest development in the world in 2017.
In order to continue the expansion of international tourism, VNAT and travel industry experts have said that the visa exemption policy should be expanded and noted that other countries in the region, such as Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore have visa exemption policies that are more open than Vietnam.
International tourists say that destinations with the simplest visa entry procedures are the most attractive and that the ease of entry into the country along with visa costs and times are important to them. Indonesia, allows visitors from more than 165 countries to enter visa free, and neighbor Thailand allows citizens from 55 countries to enter visa free, so in this regard Vietnam can make improvements.
Deputy Prime Minister Dam also noted that although the transport infrastructure and tourism environment have improved and many modern tourism projects have come online during 2016 and 2017, the improvements have not been as great as expected and the tourism sector still lacks many things including tourism products for both consumers and business travelers.
For consumers, there needs to be an increase of museums, theme parks and other entertainment activities and there should be a focus on making Vietnam an attractive destination that tourists will visit a second or third time. In order to make Vietnam attractive it must be seen as a clean and safe destination and the government needs to continue to monitor criminal activities and unscrupulous business practices that can damage the Vietnam “brand”.
For business travelers, Vietnam needs to develop world-class conference facilities in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City that can accommodate international business conferences and MICE exhibitions at a level of other Asian countries in order to be competitive.
According to VNAT, Vietnam expects a 20% increase of international tourists in 2018, to 15.5 million visitors and also expects 78 million domestic travelers with tourism revenue increasing to $27.2 billion USD (620 trillion VND). In order to continue to expand the tourism industry, the government will need to ensure that Vietnam’s tourism products and services are competitive with its regional neighbors and 2018 will be an important year in development.