S. Korea may overtake China as Vietnam’s top tourism market

China may be replaced by South Korea as Vietnam’s largest tourism source market as the number of South Korean visitors to Vietnam has surged during the year up to July.

S. Korea may overtake China as Vietnam’s top tourism market
South Korean tourists buy souvenirs in Hoi An Ancient Town. South Korea may overtake China as Vietnam’s largest tourism source market

Data released by the General Statistics Office show that over 2.8 million Chinese tourists visited Vietnam over the past seven months, down 2.8% year-on-year. Meanwhile, the number of South Korean tourists rose an astounding 22% against the same period last year to exceed 2.4 million arrivals. Tourists from these two markets accounted for half the country’s total international tourists during the given period.

South Korea, over a couple of years, has narrowed the gap with the Chinese market and obtained a higher growth rate than China in terms of the number of tourists arriving in Vietnam.

In 2017, Chinese tourist arrivals posted a gap of over 1.5 million tourists versus South Korean arrivals. The gap narrowed to some 1.4 million arrivals in 2018 and then a mere 490,000 arrivals over the first seven months.

Commenting on the potential of Vietnam’s top two source tourism markets, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) said that the pace of arrivals from China has slowed and no effective measures to boost the sustainable growth of this market are currently available.

By contrast, the number of South Korean tourists arriving in Vietnam rose by some one million visitors annually, and there is still significant room left to exploit the potential for strong growth from this source market, according to VNAT.


Several travel operators told the Saigon Times that there has been a switch in China’s tourism preferences, recorded at some Southeast Asian destinations. Aside from Vietnam, Thailand has experienced a drop in the number of Chinese tourists.

Similar to VNAT, some travel agencies and marketing experts said there are now more chances for Vietnam to tap the full potential of the South Korean market. However, they pointed out that South Korean travelers explore popular destinations based on travel trends. The number of tourist arrivals from South Korea will either sharply skyrocket or take a nosedive as various trends come and go.

Vietnam is currently among the most popular destinations for South Koreans. Flights connecting the two countries are on the rise each month, a tourism marketing expert said.

Last year, the average spending of each Chinese tourist in Vietnam reached VND19 million, while that of South Koreans averaged VND26 million each, according to VNAT.

Dao Loan

Leave your comment on an article