|Russia is one of the major source markets of Vietnam’s tourism industry. – SGT Photo: Dao Loan
According to Hoang Thi Phong Thu, chairwoman of Pegas Misr Travel Vietnam, the Russian rouble has tumbled to record lows after Western countries announced harsh sanctions on Russia.
This is not the first time that the rouble has slumped. In 2014, the rouble tumbled after the annexation of Crimea by Russia, immediately causing disruptions in the tourism industry.
“This situation is repeating, but it’s more difficult this time because we are facing two crises at the same time – war and the Covid pandemic,” she said.
Russia has for many years been a major source market of Vietnam’s tourism industry.
The 2019 Vietnam Tourism report showed that Russian tourists were the top spenders in Vietnam, with the average Russian spending over US$1,830 on his/her trip.
British tourists were the second-highest spending travelers in Vietnam with US$1,715, followed by American, Australian and French tourists with US$1,570, US$1,541 and US$1,443, respectively.
Russian tourists also stayed for the longest period, with the average duration of their vacations in Vietnam reaching over 15 days, followed by British tourists with 14.46 days, French tourists at 12.76 days and American and Australian tourists 12 days.
More than 646,000 Russian tourists visited Vietnam in 2019. Khanh Hoa, Phan Thiet, Danang, Quang Nam, HCMC and the Mekong Delta were their favorite destinations.
“After two years of suspension due to the Covid pandemic, we were preparing to reopen the doors to international tourists. But then the Russia-Ukraine crisis broke out and wiped away our plans,” Thu said.
“The tourism market recovered pretty quickly in previous crises. But we can’t say anything this time,” she added.
Leaders of some travel companies, hotels and resorts in Russian tourists’ favorite destinations such as Nha Trang and Phan Thiet said the Russia-Ukraine conflict had ruined their resumption plans.
Nguyen Huu Y Yen, general director of Saigontourist Travel Company, said Vietnam has not fully reopened its doors to international tourists so the impact of the Russia-Ukraine crisis on Vietnam’s tourism industry cannot be fully evaluated at the moment.
Some visible consequences could include higher tour prices due to increasing inflation and disruptions in aviation activities.
Pham Ha, CEO of Lux Group, said some of the company’s partners have canceled negotiations for a number of travel services serving Russian tourists in Nha Trang City.
“The crisis will hit not only Russian tourists but also tourists from other countries. Insecurity, higher costs due to surging fuel prices and flight bans are the major challenges,” he said.
The international air routes operated by Vietnamese airlines are not affected by tensions in the Russia - Ukraine relations, Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) Dinh Viet Thang affirmed on February 24.
Dr. Nguyen Tri Hieu, financial and banking expert, warned that the increasing tensions between Russia and Ukraine would negatively affect Vietnam’s stock market.