Vietnam Seeks To Welcome Up To 20 Million Tourists By 2020
Dec 19, 2019

Vietnam is planning to strengthen its tourism sector as it has turned into one of the most important driving forces for the country’s economic development in the past years, contributing more than six per cent to GDP each year.

Taking note of this, in 2011, the government released the “Strategy on Vietnam’s tourism development until 2020, vision to 2030” to provide guidelines for cities and provinces to promote their tourism industry.

As part of the strategy, Vietnam aims to attract 17 to 20 million international visitors in 2020. As of November 2019, Vietnam welcomed 16.3 million international travelers, a 15.4-per-cent year-on-year increase, Hong Kong-based consultancy Dezan Shira & Associates in a recent briefing on Vietnam’s tourism sector noted.

Formula One race debut

Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, continued to perform well in 2019. In the first nine months of 2019, Hanoi welcomed 21.5 million visitors, of them five million international travelers. This is a ten per cent year-on year increase. The city is also preparing for the country’s first Formula One Race in April 2020 with the government working on overhauling transportation infrastructure and visa exemption for foreign spectators. It is expected that the number of visitors to Hanoi would see a significant rise thanks to this international event.

Due to the strategy’s aim to give priority to develop other provinces for tourism, Binh Duong has become the second most popular destination in Southern Vietnam, only behind Ho Chi Minh City.

Binh Duong is promoting the tourism industry with its own tourism development strategy which includes a wide range of all-year-round activities to introduce visitors to Binh Duong’s distinct cuisines, culture and people. There were five million tourists coming to Binh Duong in the first nine months, right behind Ho Chi Minh City’s six million.

Medical tourism is growing

Vietnam is further emerging as a key player in Southeast Asia’s medical tourism industry. In 2017, 80,000 foreign tourists came to Vietnam for health check-ups and medical treatment, bringing in $2 billion in total. The medical tourism industry is projected to grow 18 to 20 per cent annually.

Key locations for medical tourism are Phu Quoc, Vung Tau, Nha Trang and Da Nang. Resorts in these regions have tried to integrate facilities to make them more suitable for medical tourism.

Such significant achievements in the tourism industry helped Vietnam rank 63rd out of 140 countries in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2019 published by the World Economic Forum. However, despite an improvement from 2017’s listing on rank 67, out of the Index’s 14 criteria, Vietnam still scores low in airport infrastructure, the night economy and human resources.

Night-time activities supported

To make night-time activities more attractive for tourists, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue and Quang Binh provinces have started to experiment with small night-time projects. Hanoi now allows all business activities and night markets in the Old Quarter to operate until 2am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Quang Binh, a famous beach destination in Central Vietnam, has also taken the initiative to introduce city tours at night by electric cars.

These initiatives present a good opportunity for investment in shopping, leisure and entertainment centers that can assimilate well with the region’s overall landscape, Dezan Shira & Associates noted.

Rosy outlook for tourism

Vietnam’s share of total arrivals to Southeast Asia has been increasing over the past three years, reaching 14 per cent in 2018. However, challenges in terms of infrastructure and business model remain. As long as decisive measures for those issues are taken, Vietnam is in a good position to utilise its diverse natural and cultural assets to be able to compete with other ASEAN countries.