(VN Express) As the international peak travel season approaches, Vietnamese firms hope for a considerable uptick in foreign tourist groups using their services. Visa hassles remain a stumbling block, though.
Pham Ha, CEO of Lux Group, which specializes in organizing luxury cruise tours, said revenues in the first nine months this year only reached 42 percent of their annual target. He hoped the figure would reach 80% by the end of this year as the international tourism market recovers.
Last month, Vietjet Air launched non-stop flights from New Delhi and Mumbai to Phu Quoc in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang, marking the launch of the first direct services between the island and India.
Da Nang, one of the most popular tourist destinations in central Vietnam, is also prepared for an international tourism boom during the peak year-end season.
More than 1,200 international flights will carry over 180,000 visitors come to Da Nang by the end of this month, according to flight schedule data from the Da Nang International Terminal Investment and Operation Joint Stock Company.
“From now until the end of this year, Da Nang can expect an increasing number of tourists from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan after these markets eased Covid entry restrictions and reopened tourism,” said Cao Tri Dung, chairman of Da Nang Tourism Association.
As one of the top trending destinations for American tourists this fall per Conde Nast Traveler, Ho Chi Minh City, once Vietnam’s Covid epicenter, is bustling with foreign visitors again.
Last week, French luxury ship Le Laperouse, carrying over 80 European tourists docked at the Saigon Port, becoming the first international cruise ship to return to the southern hub since the pandemic broke out over two years ago.
From now until the end of the year, the city’s tourism industry is expected to welcome more cruise ships carrying 200-300 tourists each.
In the first nine months of this year, the city received 2.1 million foreign arrivals. Though this number was only around 30% of pre-pandemic levels, the city hopes to welcome 3.5 million this year.
Though Vietnam has reopened its borders fully to foreign tourists since mid-March, travel firms are finding it hard to attract enough foreign tourists due to strict visa policies, which allow tourists to stay for up to 30 days.
The number of foreign visitors in September fell by 11.2% from the previous month to 432,000.
“While many neighboring countries are offering golden visa policies to lure foreign visitors, Vietnam is still lagging behind with strict rules that hinder tourism recovery,” Ha said. Also, “Many foreign tourists have canceled their trips to Vietnam as they could not get an entry visa for more than a month. The current visa policies are a major barrier for Vietnam’s tourism recovery,” Ha said.
The country is providing visa-free stay to citizens from 24 countries, while the Thai government has increased the period of visa-free stay for tourists from over 50 countries from 30 to 45 days with effect from October 1; while Indonesia has resumed its visa-on-arrival program.
The Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Nguyen Van Hung, had proposed in August that visa exemption be offered to tourists from the U.S., Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India. No decision has been taken on the proposal yet.