How Digital Payments Shape Vietnam’s Travel Landscape

9:44:05 AM | 9/26/2023

Vietnam, a country with diverse and stunning landscapes and a rich cultural heritage, has emerged as a popular destination for travelers from around the world. In the wake of the global pandemic, it is vital for both travelers and industry stakeholders to understand how the Vietnamese travel landscape has changed and adapted to the new realities.

The Visa Global Travel Intentions Study (GTI) 2023 offers invaluable insights into the evolving travel habits of tourists, presenting a roadmap for businesses to cater to their needs while showcasing the country's unique charms.

“For more than a decade, the Global Travel Intentions Study has equipped Visa and its partners, in Vietnam and worldwide, with unparalleled insights on the travel and payment landscape. This invaluable knowledge allows operators in the industry to plan and execute effective strategies to satisfy consumer demands and grow their businesses, and reinforces Visa’s commitment to creating a cashless society,” said Ms. Dung Dang, Visa Country Manager for Vietnam and Laos.

Emerging Trends Powering the Travel Boom

The GTI 2023 revealed an ongoing trend in the Vietnamese travel industry, which saw the rise of Gen Z and families with kids as significant contributors to the travel boom. In terms of leisure trips, families traveling with kids and Silvers made the most trips – averaging 2.4 leisure trips – in the past 12 months.

Gone are the days when travel was solely about ticking off landmarks from a checklist. Vietnamese travelers are now placing a strong emphasis on leisure-focused and experiential journeys. Relaxation was the main driver for travel (68%), followed by shopping (43%) and exploration or trying something new (43%). As the country blossoms into a playground for adventure seekers and culture enthusiasts, tourists are opting for personalized experiences that enable them to immerse themselves in local customs, traditions, and cuisine.

As environmental awareness takes center stage, Vietnamese travelers demonstrate a remarkable interest and action in sustainable travel. 73% of people said they were either interested or very interested in sustainable travel options, while half (50%) had actively looked for these options when planning their travels. With an increasing number of travelers seeking eco-conscious options, the industry is witnessing a shift towards greener travel practices, supporting local communities and preserving natural resources.

With a growing middle class and increasing disposable income, these demographics are embarking on more domestic and international trips, seeking unforgettable experiences and bonding opportunities. Almost 1 in 5 mentioned visiting friends or family as a key motivation for travel in the next year. As consumer spending power rises, travelers would appear to view shopping as an integral part of their travel experience, seeking unique souvenirs and indulging in retail therapy to enrich their journey.

A Strong Recovery on the Horizon

Amid the global recovery from COVID-19, Vietnam's tourism sector is rebounding. Domestic tourism has been pivotal, with locals exploring their own country, bolstering local businesses and jobs. In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, security and acceptance are crucial in shaping Vietnamese travelers' payment preferences. The study highlights that travelers seek seamless transactions and robust security measures, emphasizing the importance of trust in financial transactions while exploring new horizons.

The digital revolution is transforming how we pay, and Vietnamese travelers have embraced the convenience of credit/debit/pre-paid cards. Almost all Vietnamese respondents in the GTI 2023 indicated that they intended to use these cashless payment options (92% credit cards and 87% debit cards) during their journeys, streamlining transactions and enhancing the overall travel experience. With 64% of Vietnamese respondents saying they brought their digital wallets for travel, the ease of use, security, and wide acceptability is drawing travelers to embrace this innovative payment method. The growing popularity of digital wallets signals a shift towards a more tech-driven and connected payment ecosystem.

“We are entering a new era for the travel industry in Vietnam, and the role of digital payments will advance side by side with the industry as customers demand more efficient and secure payment services. Adapting swiftly, hotels, restaurants, and tour operators must cater to evolving traveler needs, supported by the growing use of cashless payment methods for added convenience,” Ms. Dung added.

A more promising and sustainable future for the Vietnamese tourism sector is emerging. Notably, the incorporation of cashless payment solutions has become a pivotal pillar, fostering convenience, security, and efficiency for travelers while contributing to the industry's overall vitality.

T.H (Vietnam Business Forum)