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Vietnam’s flourishing tourism market poses threat to Thailand

By Kim Thuy   June 27, 2016 | 09:18 pm PT
With Vietnam welcoming a surge of South Korean tourists, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is concerned that Vietnam is stealing valuable tourism revenue from the country, which counts South Korea among its top-five East Asian tourist markets, according to the Bangkok Post.

In 2015, South Korean tourist arrivals to Thailand grew 22% to 1.37 million, while Vietnam welcomed 114,740 South Korean travelers, a surge of 131%.

Vietnam has become a more and more attractive destination for international tourists, which may pose a threat to its neighbor’s tourism sector.

Thailand is seeking to use attractive travel prices and established infrastructure to lure South Koreans and tackle the threat, the Post said.

In the first quarter of 2016, Vietnam welcomed nearly 2.5 million tourists, up 20 percent from the same period last year.


Tram Mountain, Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Ngo Huy Hoa

Vietnam in June alone is reported to have received 700,446 international arrivals.

"Vietnam will be Thailand's key rival for the South Korean tourist market in the next five years. Its tourism infrastructure is developing so fast, its products are fresh and tourist safety is good. Moreover, Vietnam is an investment destination for South Koreans," Siriges-a-nong Trirattanasongpol, director of TAT's Seoul office, told the Bangkok Post

Ms Siriges-a-nong told the Bangkok Post that Vietnam is becoming a popular destination, especially as a beach destination, while many of Thailand's top beaches have deteriorated.

The downgrading of Thailand's aviation standards by the International Civil Aviation Organization is also a key obstacle because tour operators cannot use charter flights, she said.

"Safety is a major concern. If Thailand can solve this problem, it will boost inbound tourism significantly, not only from South Korea, but also other markets," Ms Siriges-a-nong said.

TAT is still confident that traveling in Thailand is more fun than in Vietnam, while the tourism situation is positive thanks to political stability.

TAT expects arrivals from South Korea to Thailand will reach 1.8 million in 2020.

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