Why Vietnam should care about how much Chinese tourists splurge

By VnExpress   December 12, 2016 | 07:00 pm GMT+7
Why Vietnam should care about how much Chinese tourists splurge
Experts say many Southeast Asian countries rely on Chinese visitors to keep coming. Photo by Reuters

More spending by Chinese visitors can boost Vietnam’s GDP by 1 percentage point.

As more Chinese travel around the world, they leave bigger impacts wherever they go.

Now experts say for countries that receive a large number of Chinese arrivals, including Thailand and Vietnam, their economic growth will be influenced by the spending habits of these visitors.

A 30 percent increase in spending by Chinese tourists would boost Vietnam’s gross domestic product by nearly 1 percentage point, Bloomberg reported on Sunday, citing Credit Suisse. For Thailand, that would be around 1.6 points.

Vietnam’s economy is expected to expand 6 percent this year, before speeding up to 6.8 percent next year.

Mainland China accounted for 30 percent of all tourists to Vietnam, with more than 2.48 million coming in the first 11 months this year, up 54 percent from the same period last year. It was the biggest source market, and only came after Hong Kong in terms of growth.

In October, the Chinese Tourism Administration released a top 10 list of favorite destinations for Chinese travelers, ranking Vietnam at seventh.

Edward Lee, an economist with Standard Chartered Plc in Singapore, said in the Bloomberg report that tourism in Southeast Asia will benefit from the growing Chinese demand.

The number of Chinese tourists into Asia as a whole has grown tenfold since 2000, Lee said. They now account for a quarter of tourists in Thailand, which came first in the China’s list of top 10 favorite destinations.

“Chinese tourism is pretty big for ASEAN now, and all the countries rely on Chinese visitors to keep coming and keep spending,” Lee was quoted as saying.

Many direct flights are serving Vietnamese major cities from China. A large number also entered via northern border provinces, particularly Quang Ninh, home to the much loved Ha Long Bay.

Quang Ninh has announced that it will ease visa requirements for Chinese visitors from January 1, allowing groups of Chinese travelers to stay for up to three days without a visa.

Harry Sa, a research analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, told Bloomberg that “China can do wonders for the economy and the countries in the region understand.”

Most countries welcome that, even those that have tensions with China, he said, referring to the overlapping claims in the South China Sea (which Hanoi calls the East Sea) that involve Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

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