Lunar New Year may draw 65 million visitors

(SGI) - The tourism industry is currently hoping that during the coming Lunar New Year holiday season about 65 million visitors will visit various destinations in Vietnam. However, accomplishing this expectation will not be easy, especially in the international tourism sector. 
Illustrative photo.
Illustrative photo.

Tet tours

Mr. Nguyen Minh Man, Director of Communication and Marketing of TST Tourist agency, said that to meet the requirements of guests this year, the company is offering several small group tours of upto six guests. In addition, there will be group guest tours of not more than 20 people per group to ensure safety against the pandemic. As of 20 January, the number of visitors registered for a Tet tour at TST has crossed more than 50% of the company expectations. With some travellers choosing to booking tours at the last minute, TST believes that in the days nearing Tet, the number of visitors will reach or even exceed more than 2,000 guests.

Mr. Man said that Ho Chi Minh City is currently a green zone, and the panic psychology of tourists is gradually stabilizing, so it is much more convenient to conduct Tet tours. He also said that Ho Chi Minh City is a market that provides a large number of tourists for the whole country, so this is a good sign for the tourism industry. This year, with 1-2 day tours, guests prefer to visit the inner cities or neighboring localities such as Tien Giang and Long An provinces, but with three to six day tours they would prefer Central and Northern provinces.

Along with TST, many other travel companies in Ho Chi Minh City such as Saigontourist, Vietravel, Fiditour, and Young Generation, are also busy planning for the Lunar New Year holiday season. Ms. Nguyen Nguyet Van Khanh, Deputy Director of Vietravel Marketing Department, said that up to this point the number of tourists booking Tet tours had reached 50% of their plan. This year, guests are choosing a lot of tours to Phu Quoc and the Northeast and Northwest. In addition, this Tet holiday, Vietravel has also reopened a number of tours taking Vietnamese tourists abroad to many popular destinations.

There is a common feature in designing tours for this Tet holiday season when all companies have put safety first in offering tours with small groups of guests and family groups. Some companies have also extended terms of travel insurance related to Covid-19 for traveller’s peace of mind. In particular, this year the Tet products are created to bring more experience to visitors. In addition to booking tours through travel agencies, this year for destinations near Ho Chi Minh City, self-sufficient tourists are also quite popular. The owner of a tourist area in Dong Thap was excited when asked about the tourist situation for coming Lunar New Year, with the number of bookings increasing day by day. The return of the Tet tourism season is being considered as the first step for the tourism industry goal of welcoming 65 million visitors in 2022.

Challenging goals

In 2022, the tourism industry is expected to receive 65 million visitors, of which 60 million will be domestic and five million will be international visitors, more than a quarter of visitors that came in 2019. The total revenue from tourists is expected to reach VND 400,000 bn. Mr. Phan Dinh Hue, Director of Viet Circle Tourism Company, shared his perspective on the goal of the tourism industry in 2022, saying that the most difficult factor is to exploit the target market of five million international visitors.

Looking back at the years of Vietnam's tourism industry, especially 2019 when we reached a record number of international visitors, we see that the most number of visitors still came from the four markets of China, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, which account for more than 60% of the total number of visitors to Vietnam, of which the largest market is still the Chinese market. Currently, China has implemented the Zero Covid policy and it is not known how long it will last, so it is difficult to expect many guests from this market. Japan is also not too receptive to opening markets and new routes. Although South Korean visitors have begun to come over, their numbers are still limited. However, customers in distant markets will have to wait until the end of the year, or perhaps from October to travel to Vietnam.

After nearly two months of piloting international arrivals, up to now the tourism industry has welcomed 7,800 visitors, a very modest number. Vietnam has also made many efforts such as exploiting a number of commercial routes and extending the list of provinces and cities to be piloted for welcoming international travellers, but strict barriers for international arrivals still remain. Nonetheless, many companies are still struggling to recover and maintain operations, which will make the goal even more challenging.

Although this year the Lunar New Year tourism season is showing many positive signs, the pandemic situation is still very much unpredictable. Perhaps we have to wait until the summer tourist season to know the market status. However, the goal of welcoming 60 million visitors, equivalent to three-quarters of the peak year of 2019, is still a challenging number for the entire tourism industry.

There is an opinion that the VAT reduction from 10% to 8% expected to apply from 1 February 2022, will have a positive impact on many industries including the tourism industry. In fact, reducing VAT was proposed by many tourism businesses for a very long time, because it will motivate people to spend more on tourism and service activities. Therefore, when hearing the news of VAT reduction, many businesses were quite excited, but with a reduction of only 2%, it may not have much impact.

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