VietNamNet Bridge – Industry insiders have called for the local tourism sector to focus more on Asian markets given a rise in regional visitor arrivals in the past year.


International tourists are seen at a local airport. The local tourism sector is urged to focus more on Asian markets as regional visitor arrivals have edged higher in the past year 



Figures of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) showed more than five million Asian visitors came to Vietnam last year, representing more than two-thirds of the total number of international arrivals that year.

China remained the biggest visitor-generating market of Vietnam in 2014 with 1.95 Chinese travelers coming to Vietnam, up 2.1% year-on-year, despite the negative impact of tensions on the East Sea in mid-May when the northern neighbor illegally placed a giant oil rig well inside Vietnam’s waters.

South Korea ranked second with nearly 848,000 visitors, rising 13.3%; Japan with 648,000, up 7.3%; and Cambodia with 404,000, increasing 18.1%; and Taiwan and 389,000, falling 2.5%.

Meanwhile, Vietnam has not been able to attract as many visitors as expected from the markets which are more than six hours of flying except the United States, Russia, Australia and Britain. Many of the 443,000-plus visitors from the U.S. last year were overseas Vietnamese, also known as Viet Kieu.

Few visitors from other markets came last year, according to figures of VNAT.

With such large numbers of visitors from Asian markets, according to travel companies, Vietnam should diversify products and services to attract more travelers from the region in order to increase revenue for the industry.

Vo Anh Tai, general director of Saigontourist Travel Service Company, proposed the sector pay more attention to China since more Chinese travel overseas and Chinese tourists prefer various types of tourism products in Vietnam, including luxury cruise trips.

Local tour operators are ready to bring more Chinese tourists to Vietnam, Tai said. He added that the tourism sector should promote Vietnam as a safe destination for visitors from Chinese-speaking markets in general and China in particular.

Phan Xuan Anh, chairman of Viet Excursions, shared Tai’s view, saying China is a potential market for cruise tours as more Chinese have opted for cruise ships to travel abroad in recent years. This is why many cruise lines have made port calls in China as part of their itineraries in Asia.

“We have served many cruise ships from China. This is a potential market and the tourism sector needs to grasp this opportunity,” Anh said.

Anh and representatives of other travel firms are of the opinion that more efforts should be made to improve products and services and develop human resources in addition to promoting the attractions of Vietnam to better serve foreign visitors.

Anh said the lack of Korean-speaking tour guides is one of the barriers to attracting more tourists from the northeast Asian country.

More Cambodian travelers have come to visit Vietnam’s entertainment areas, including Suoi Tien in HCMC’s District 9. So Anh said Vietnam should manage to better capitalize on this neighboring market.

Tai of Saigontourist said Vietnam needs to loosen visa requirements to woo more foreign travelers just as what Japan has done to visitors from China and Thailand. This is what Vietnam can learn to boost international tourist arrivals.