The media outlet assessed that the country has fast become one of the most popular destinations throughout the region as tourists come to enjoy the county's diverse landscapes, beaches, mountainous, rice terraces, and bustling cities.

According to a report compiled by Google Destination Insights, the nation was the seventh most searched destination from March to June, as well as being the only country in Southeast Asia to feature among the top 20.

The country’s popularity can be seen in the number of international arrivals, with the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism announcing in June that the country  welcomed over 5.5 million foreign visitors in the first six months of the year, already exceeding the total number of international arrivals from 2022.

More tourist growth predicted for Vietnam

The Vietnamese tourist sector has set a target of welcoming eight million visitors for the remainder of the year, although the tourism bureau has since predicted the numbers will likely rise to 10 million.

Bobby Nguyen, chairman of tour agency Rustic Hospitality Group, told DW that the boost is mainly coming from Chinese, Indian, and Korean tourists.

"China has reopened the outbound market to Vietnam and the Indian market has grown since 2022," he said.

Nguyen added that the use of social media and the influence of large travel groups has also served to help boost the country’s international popularity.

"Having many online communication channels such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or promotion channels on Google or other networking channels is also the fastest way to promote Vietnam's image to the world," he said.

Improved visa policy expected to boost tourism

Hanoi recently approved a new visa policy for international visitors, tripling visa waivers from 15 to 45 days for selected countries.

For visitors from countries eligible to apply for an electronic visa, visas will now be valid for up to 90 days with either single or multiple entries.

These changes will come into force from August 15.

Gary Bowerman, a tourism analyst based in Kuala Lumpur, said the visa changes will contribute to boosting the tourism sector.

"It's picking up, and over the next six months, you will see travelers to Vietnam increase. I think it's going to be very strong, and you'll see growth particularly now the Chinese market is back," he told DW.

One of the nation’s selling points is that it's a lesser-known destination, whilst it offers both tourism and business opportunities, said Bowerman.

"A lot of younger people now want to learn a bit more about the country. I think there's a lot about Vietnam that isn't very well-known. I think Thailand is probably better known. There is a sense of discovery and mysticism about Vietnam. It is the country where people want to invest, where they want to do business, and they want to travel," he added.

Vietnamese travel industry looks forward

For travel companies based in Vietnam, the new visa policy coupled with the prospect of more international arrivals is exciting.

"I'm looking forward to seeing what happens," said Max Lambert, owner of Fuse Hostels & Travel.

"We're seeing in the last three months a substantial uptick in the number of international guests staying in hostels," he told DW, adding that bookings are back to the levels seen in 2019.

However, international arrivals to the country are still way off pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, there were nearly 19 million international arrivals, meaning Vietnam has still some way to go if it's going to rival tourism in Thailand, said Lambert.

"Thailand is still getting more number growth. Thailand is the big player in the region, it's going to take a long time for Vietnam to get to that level," he said.

Tourism operator Nguyen added that Vietnam must improve in several areas as a means of fully maximising its potential.

"Tourism is an integrated economy, the coordination between ministries and sectors must be close. The infrastructure, including the system of highways, railways, and roads, does not meet the development of tourism," he said.

"It is necessary to retrain and train new personnel working in the tourism industry to meet the quality of services provided to tourists," he added.

Source: VOV