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Published on: June 5, 2021, 11:37 a.m.
What Vietnam did right
  • VPhú Quoc island known for white sand beaches

By Suman Tarafdar

For many countries, the summer holiday season could also be one of returning hope as they look to reopen for travel and tourism – helping save livelihoods dependent on the sector. Among the major tourism destinations to attempt this is Vietnam, one of the bright spots in controlling Covid-19.

Vietnam’s figures are astounding – since the beginning of the pandemic, it has recorded just 3,740 cases! “Thanks to good performance in the pandemic control, the government of Vietnam has employed various means to boost inbound tourism since May 2020,” points out Pham Sanh Chau, Ambassador of Vietnam to India.

Currently not open to foreign tourists, Vietnam is expected to pilot the arrival of foreign tourists from some countries from July onwards, informs its National Administration of Tourism. “There will be pilot programmes to test various aspects like suitable markets, inbound passenger procedures and safety protocols and destinations,” says Pham.  

Growing bilateral ties

Pham admits that tourism industry in Vietnam has been severely impacted by the pandemic. “2020 witnessed an unprecedented loss of nearly $23 billion, with the number of international tourists to Vietnam falling by 80 per cent year-on-year, over 2019. Many hotels and international travel agencies got closed. However, the good side is that domestic travel has picked up again, thanks to the effective measures to control the pandemic.” In 2019, tourism contributed 9.2 per cent of Vietnam’s GDP, about $36 billion. The number of inbound tourists to Vietnam that year was 18 million, a y-o-y growth of 16.2 per cent and 2.3 times higher than 2015.

India and Vietnam had been growing bilateral links rapidly in recent years. Between 2015 and 2019, the average growth of Indian tourists to Vietnam was 26.7 per cent, with net travellers growing from 65,600 to 169,000. Leisure travellers accounted for nearly 60 per cent of all Indian visitors, while business travel accounted nearly a quarter of the total. On average, Indian tourists spend about $1,200 per capita for overnight trips in Vietnam, while the daily visit spending is about $150.

Before the lockdown, there were 21 return flights per week between the two nations, operated by IndiGo and VietJet, connecting Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. Since 2015, Vietnamese tourists visiting Bodh Gaya have been able to fly with Thai Vietjet, Vietjet’s joint venture airline from Bangkok to Bodh Gaya. “I strongly believe that there will be more flights and destinations as both IndiGo and Vietjet Air have seen the growth potential of the routes between our two countries,” says Pham. “When the direct flights were inaugurated, the number of travellers between the two countries rose significantly. I do expect a jump when the commercial flights are resumed.”

The ambassador is confident about growing the links. “I am actually optimistic as almost all conditions are in place to have booming ties in the field of tourism,” he says. To know about each other’s countries, “Effective media campaigns should be deployed to raise the awareness and kindle interests in our population. Besides, greater attention and involvements from the experts and travel agencies to promote bilateral tourism will also help a great deal”.

To keep the ties going, the embassy held three online events to promote Vietnam to Indian travel agencies in 2020, as Vietnam is actively preparing to bring the tourists back when the pandemic is under control.

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