Hanoi – Vietnam’s tourism has gone through a period full of ups and downs, achieving impressive growth with world-honoured awards from 2015-2019 before falling to the bottom with COVID-19. Its official reopening after the pandemic took place in March this year, marking a new stage of recovery and growth.
Such periods are worth remembering during the sector’s 62 years of formation and development (July 9, 1960 – 2022).
A top tourist destination
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the competitiveness of Vietnam’s tourism increased by 12 places, from 75/141 in 2015 to 63/140 in 2019.
Between 2015 and 2019, the number of international visitors to Vietnam increased 2.3 times, from 7.9 million to 18 million arrivals, achieving an average annual growth rate of 22.7% – the highest level in the world, according to statistics from annual reports of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
Notably, in 2019, the growth of international visitors to Vietnam reached 16.2%, far exceeding the global average (3.8%) and that of the Asia-Pacific (4.6%). The nation surpassed Indonesia and ranked 4th in Southeast Asia (after Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore) in international arrivals.
As a result, total revenue from tourists increased 2.1 times from 355 trillion VND (15.16 billion USD) in 2015 to 755 trillion VND in 2019; with earnings from international tourists up from 9 billion USD to 18.3 billion USD.
The impressive development speed has contributed to the increasing position of Vietnam’s tourism. The country has become an attractive destination in the eyes of international friends. It is honoured by many prestigious international organisations and press agencies.
Most notably, the World Travel Awards, which are likened to the Oscars of the global tourism industry, accredited Vietnam as the world’s leading heritage destination; the world’s best golf destination; Asia’s leading cultural destination; and Asia’s leading culinary destination in 2019, as well as Asia’s top destination in 2018 and 2019.
The impressive growth results and a series of prestigious awards achieved from 2015 to 2019 have painted brilliant colours on the picture of Vietnam’s tourism.
Efforts to overcome the pandemic blow and bounce back
At the beginning of 2020, amid Vietnamese tourism reaping impressive growth indicators, which seemed to open a new and exciting period, the pandemic broke out globally. The blow caused tourism activities to stop and fall into a freezing state.
In the past two years, the pandemic has pushed world tourism, including Vietnam’s, into an “abyss”. The market and its activities completely stopped and its growth plunged to zero or even negative.
From March 2020, Vietnam closed its border for pandemic prevention and control. As a result, the number of visitors stood at 3.7 million, decreasing by 80% compared to 2019. Meanwhile, tourism revenue fell by 59% to just 312.2 trillion VND.
In 2021, the number of foreign and domestic visitors further declined to 14,900 and 40 million, respectively, with tourism revenue being just 180 trillion VND.
Up to 90-95% of tourism businesses had to stop operating or cut down most of their workforces, and workers were forced to change jobs. In addition, most local cultural, sports and tourism events had to be postponed to serve disease prevention.
Given this context, the Government’s Resolution 128/NQ-CP on safe, flexible adaptation to and effective control of the COVID-19 epidemic was implemented in addition to many other supportive policies.
On March 15, Vietnam was fully reopened, and the sector was set to rebound.
In the first six months of 2022, the country hosted 413,000 international and 60.8 million domestic travellers, with total revenue from tourists estimated at 265 trillion VND. In addition, data from Google showed that Vietnam was continuously among the top destinations in the world in terms of growth in tourism information search./.