Vietnam is a country of natural beauty, unspoiled beaches, warm friendly people (once you have passed immigration and customs!) and boasting 8 natural heritage sites. However, Vietnam only grants visa exemptions to 21 countries, in comparison to Malaysia 164, the Philippines 157, Indonesia 169, and Thailand 52 (with visa on arrival for 19). The exemptions to 5 European countries were extended on July 1st for a further year (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain).
However, the country often underperforms in comparison to many of its regional neighbours because of a lack of spend on destination marketing and its’ still rather stringent visa policy. Notwithstanding this 2016 was a stellar year for Vietnam’s tourism industry with a record number of international arrivals and domestic tourists. 2016, saw over 10 million international visitors, a 25% increase on 2015, and 62 million domestic tourists and recorded tourism revenue of US$ 18 billion. Tourism directly and indirectly contributes approx. 10% of the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
China with approx. 2.7 million visitors is Vietnam’s largest inbound market followed by S.Korea with approx. 1.5 million together accounting for over 40% of inbound visitors. Other major inbound markets are Japan, USA, Taiwan and Malaysia, and Russia (Vietnam’s largest European inbound market).
For 2017, Vietnam is targeting 11.5 million international arrivals and 66 million domestic tourists and achievement of these targets will be facilitated by significantly increased marketing budget, a newly launched improved digital market platform developed under a PPP project between the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism and the Tourism Advisory Board, a soon to be launched proper evisa system and the continued exemptions currently in place.
I believe that with improved infrastructure, better tourism management and improved service quality and tourism products Vietnam should be able to reach their target of 18-20 million visitors by 2020 and 30 million should be achievable by 2025.