Surge in international visitor markets to Vietnam

After the pandemic, international arrivals to Vietnam surpassed pre-pandemic peaks in 2019, reaching over 4.6 million in the first quarter of 2024, up 3.2%.

This achievement is attributed to the remarkable growth in several tourist markets compared to the same period last year. Specifically, major markets in Northeast Asia continued to surge, serving as the primary driving force behind the recovery of international visitors to Vietnam. Particularly noteworthy, the Chinese market increased by 534.5% compared to the same period in 2023, Taiwan by 127.3%, South Korea by 52%, and Japan by 52.7%.

Nearby markets in Southeast Asia also exhibited strong growth, including Indonesia (118.5%), the Philippines (52.6%), Malaysia (24.6%), Cambodia (19.1%), and Singapore (8.6%).

Significantly, European tourist markets showed lively growth, with France up by 29.3%, Italy by 27.1%, the United Kingdom by 15.0%, Germany by 15.8%, among others. These markets benefited from Vietnam’s unilateral visa exemption policy with a temporary stay of up to 45 days.

Overall, international arrivals have nearly fully recovered and even increased compared to the first quarter of 2019 – the year Vietnam attracted the most international visitors in its history. Specifically, visitors from Australia reached 120% compared to the same period in 2019; Asia reached 104%, the Americas reached 103%, with the United States at 106%, and Europe nearly fully recovered, reaching 97%.

For the market that has historically led Vietnam’s tourism, China, after a 30% recovery in 2023 compared to 2019, the first three months of 2024 have seen a recovery rate of 69%, indicating positive signs.

Group of 10 largest tourist markets of Vietnam in the first quarter of 2024 - Surge in international visitor markets to Vietnam
Group of 10 largest tourist markets of Vietnam in the first quarter of 2024.

Nguyen Duc Chi, a tourism expert, attributes the strong increase in international tourists to Vietnam in the first quarter to it being the peak season. However, he also acknowledges that policy factors such as the expanded e-visa to all countries and an extension to 90 days, as well as increased stay duration for 13 visa-exempt countries, have stimulated the return of tourists to Vietnam. Nevertheless, there have been structural changes in the tourist composition, with more independent travelers following global trends, while group tours or tour package travelers remain less prevalent, leading domestic travel companies to lament a shortage of customers. “I see English-speaking tour guides mostly catering to Western individual travelers, with fewer large groups. Our visa policies are perhaps attracting more independent travelers,” emphasized Mr. Chi.

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