May 16, 2020 / 21:19

Vietnam tourism industry cautiously reopens to foreign visitors

The Hanoitimes - The country sticks to the goals of developing the economy, preventing the disease and restoring socio-economic activities in the new normalcy.

Vietnam is considering resuming of inbound tourism, targeting source markets that have managed to control the Covid-19 pandemic, said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the meeting with the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control on May 15.

 Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc addresses the meeting. Photo: VGP

Prime Minister Phuc stressed that Vietnam has succeeded in putting the pandemic under control and spoke highly of the efforts by the health sector at all levels to prevent and contain Covid-19, ensuring no infections in the community over the past 29 days. 

Tourism has become a driving force of the Vietnamese economy. Last year, the country received a record of 18 million foreign visitors, an increase of 16% against 2018 and expected to see 20.5 million coming this year. However, this ambitious plan has been thwarted by the global coronavirus pandemic.

Vietnam welcomed only 3.7 million foreign tourists in the first four months of 2020, a year-on-year decline of 37.8%, according to the General Statistics Office. Around 26,200 international visitors arrived in Vietnam in April, down 94.2% against March and 98.2% year-on-year. 

The decline in arrivals is attributable to travel restrictions and fears over novel coronavirus infection around the globle.

Dramatic drops were seen in major markets such as China, South Korea, Japan, Europe and the US.

The tourism industry is in a dire situation due to the government’s strong measures to cope with the pandemic such as suspending visa exemption and issuance, banning all foreign arrivals from March 23, tracking down all entrants from March 8, closing all catering services in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City from March 28, and stopping international flights and limiting public transport.

At a press conference on May 14, Spokesperson of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang said the country could gradually open doors to foreign entrants on dependence of the pandemic evolution.

Currently, many travel businesses have participated in promotional programs to attract local travelers, while the international market is at a standstill due to the outbreak of Covid-19.