Regaining Tourism Growth Momentum

3:52:54 PM | 1/10/2023

Despite difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic and political instability, the Vietnamese tourism sector recovered remarkably in 2022. This is also a foundation and motivation for Vietnam's tourism to quickly regain its growth momentum and realize the goal of becoming a spearhead economic sector earlier than scheduled in Resolution 08/NQ-TW.


March 15, 2022 could be considered a milestone when the Government allowed the reopening of international tourism after more than two years of complete stagnation caused by the COVID-19 epidemic. This is an accurate and timely decision of the Party and State of Vietnam in order to realize the strategy of transitioning from “Zero Covid” to “Safely adapting to, flexibly, effectively controlling the COVID-19 epidemic”. The shift in viewpoints and policies of the Party and State shaped and paved the way for the tourism industry to restore tourism nationwide.

Domestic tourism sets new record

Domestic tourism has been active since early 2022. The sector targeted to serve 60 million visitors in 2022 but the turnout was more than 101 million visitors, 68.8% higher than the target and 19% higher than the record 85 million visitors in 2019. The outstanding growth of domestic tourists not only made an important contribution to total tourist revenue in 2022 (estimated at VND495 trillion, an increase of 2.75 times over 2021) but also demonstrated the strong resilience, potential and development space of domestic tourism.

In 2022, many localities, especially key tourist areas, organized large-scale tourism events to attract tourists, such as Rose Festival (Lao Cai), VITM Hanoi 2022, Sam Son Beach Tourism Festival (Thanh Hoa), Da Nang Summer Festival 2022, Carnaval Ha Long (Quang Ninh), Hue Festival (Thua Thien Hue), Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Week 2022 and Da Lat Flower Festival (Lam Dong). These events highlighted tourism, especially in major tourist centers like Hanoi, which reached 18.7 million visitors, an increase of 4.7 times over 2021; Ho Chi Minh City with 28.5 million visitors; Lao Cai with 4.4 million visitors, an increase of nearly 220% over 2021; Quang Nam with 4.7 million arrivals, up 13 times over 2021; and Lam Dong with 7 million arrivals, an increase of 3.4 times over 2021.

Dr. Nguyen Trung Khanh, General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), affirmed that the more than 100 million domestic visitors in 2022 clearly reflected Vietnam's achievements in disease prevention, flexible adaptation and efforts of the tourism industry to launch post-pandemic recovery actions as soon as the COVID-19 epidemic was controlled.

Gradual restoration in international tourist market

Contrary to the exciting recovery of domestic tourism, international tourist markets confronted numerous difficulties but also expressed persistence and efforts of Vietnam's tourism industry. Although Vietnam has opened to international tourism since mid-March 2022, most important international tourist markets, including China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan (China), have not opened completely yet or still restricted citizens from traveling abroad for most of 2022. In addition, the impact of the protracted Russia-Ukraine conflict has almost emptied tourists from Russia and East Europe. Economic recessions have weakened travel demand in distant markets like the United States and Europe. Fierce competition from destinations in the region such as Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia with open policies on visas, incentives and promotions made it more difficult for Vietnam's tourism to attract international tourists.

Before that context, Vietnam's tourism has flexibly redirected to tap potential markets such as India and the Middle East. In 2022, many direct flights from Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City to Indian cities were opened. Some provinces and cities such as Khanh Hoa and Da Nang actively launched promotions in Indian cities. The tourism industry also attended the Tourism Promotion Forum in India within the framework of "Vietnam Day in India 2022" and joined international conferences on Vietnam - Middle East tourism cooperation.

2022 was also a tourism year. Localities and tourism businesses coordinated to organize many major events such as the National Travel Forum 2022: “Solutions to restore and develop international tourism in Vietnam”; Workshop on "Impressive Vietnam: Summer Opportunities and Challenges 2022"; High-Level Tourism Forum themed "Solutions to restore and develop sustainable international tourism" to discuss, propose and implement initiatives and solutions to gradually revive the international tourist market. In addition, Vietnam’s tourism industry participated in many major international tourism events to promote the message “Live Fully in Vietnam” at the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2022, ITB Asia International Travel Fair (ASIA) 2022 Singapore, Mekong Tourism Forum 2022, Vietnam Tourism - Culture Festival in Korea, East Asia Inter-Regional Tourism Forum (EATOF) 2022, and WTM London International Travel Fair 2022.

According to a report by VNAT, in 2022, the tourism industry received 3.5 million international visitors. Despite fulfilling only 70% of the target set at the beginning of 2022, this result partly demonstrated efforts of the sector to accelerate recovery of international tourist markets in the coming time.

Targeting 110 million tourists by 2023

According to forecasts by many international tourism agencies and experts, global tourist arrivals will increase by 30% in 2023 after reaching 900 million arrivals in 2022, which are still lower than in 2019. The global economic picture will be challenging in 2023 when economies fall into recession and the demand of import markets shrink. Geopolitical conflicts, negative climate impacts, extreme weather and natural disasters will become major challenges for Vietnam's tourism. In that context, the tourism industry aims to welcome 110 million tourists, including 8 million international visitors and 102 million domestic tourists. Total tourism revenue was forecast at VND650 trillion.

With the focus on shifting the development strategy to quality, the tourism industry will concentrate on upgrading high-class product lines such as beach resort, island resort, eco-tourism, heritage tourism, culinary tourism, MICE, golf, sports and medical tourism to catch up with new world tourism trends. In addition, the tourism industry will increase the scale and quality of promotion at major regional and international tourism events. It will also continue to propose removing shortcomings in investment attraction for technical infrastructure construction and service capacity upgrading at international and domestic airports; expand open visa policies and procedures to facilitate travel; develop cultural industry with tourism; and encourage public-private partnership in tourism development.

Prime Minister demands seeking solutions to woo international visitors to Vietnam
On December 21, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh chaired a conference on drawing international tourists to Vietnam. He asked central and local agencies, businesses and experts to analyze causes and responsibilities to attract international tourists to Vietnam. It is necessary to consider diversity and uniqueness of tourism products, market diversity, tourism supply chain, tourism communication and promotion, innovation, digital transformation, green transformation in tourism development. On that basis, relevant agencies will propose solutions to remove difficulties and obstacles; and have plans, tasks and solutions to boost sustainable and long-term attraction of international tourists to Vietnam in early 2023 and throughout 2023 with breakthrough development.

Thu Huyen (Vietnam Business Forum)