Foreign tourists plan 2023 visits to Vietnam with expectations about visa relaxation

By Hoang Phong   January 1, 2023 | 03:37 pm PT
Foreign tourists plan 2023 visits to Vietnam with expectations about visa relaxation
Foreign tourists kiss in front of the St. Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi on Christmas's Eve, December 24, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Despite global economic uncertainties and visa hassles, many foreign tourists are making plans to visit Vietnam in 2023, promising a booming year for tourism market.

Michael Perry, an American, is planning to visit Vietnam after the Lunar New Year holiday, or Tet. The country's biggest holiday will last from January 20 to 26.

"I am hoping to make a visit at some point after the Tet holiday as it will be less crowded and hopefully less costly, especially with flights from the U.S.," he told VnExpress International.

After Vietnam reopened to tourism in March 2022, Perry returned to the country to visit some tourist hotspots in the northern region, such as Hanoi, Ha Long Bay and Ninh Binh.

For 2023, he prefers to visit less crowded places such as Mui Ne and Quy Nhon in the south central coast, which are famous for their long, sandy beaches and turquoise waters.

Steven Thompson, an American who is now in Phuket, Thailand, to celebrate the New Year holiday, said he would like to participate in a few more marathons in Vietnam in 2023.

"My previous experiences [in 2022] were a lot of fun," he added. "I would also like to visit some tourist destinations new to me like Quy Nhon, Da Lat, Ha Long Bay and Hai Phong."

After visiting Thailand, Thompson plans to return to Vietnam following the Tet holiday since most of his friends in Vietnam are in Da Nang, and that’s when the weather is best there.

Jennie Bean and her friends from Canada plan to fly to Hanoi on March 29 where she will begin a trans-Vietnam journey through Ninh Binh, Phong Nha-Ke Bang, and Hoi An before heading south to Phu Quoc Island and Ho Chi Minh City.

"We are excited," she said.

Jesper Korsgaard from Sweden wants to visit Mui Ne, famous for sports adventurous activities, in February.

"I want to experience kiteboarding in Mui Ne," he said. "I'm traveling every year and I've already seen more of Vietnam than my home country Sweden."

Expectations for 2023

Most foreign tourists approached by VnExpress International said they hope the government will relax visa policies in the new year and improve the quality of tourist services.

"Vietnam is a beautiful country and I need a longer visa to explore remote parts of the country where I have never been to there," Thompson said.

Vietnam now offers a one-month single-entry e-visa to visitors from 80 countries. The multi-entry three-month visa that was available before Covid has not been brought back yet.

Perry said he hopes Vietnam will remain open to foreign tourists despite the uncertainty surrounding Covid in China.

"Due to the current Covid situation in China, I worry about the resurgence of Covid precautions once again which will impact travel globally," he said. "I hope Vietnam does not have to revert back to those painful days."

In addition, Perry said he wished the tourism industry would do a better job to boost the quality of tourist services and get rid of tourist scams, especially at major airports like Tan Son Nhat in HCMC and Noi Bai in Hanoi.

Vietnam opened its borders in March, becoming one of the first Southeast Asian countries to fully reopen to international tourism.

The country only received 3.6 million foreign tourists by the end of December, or 70% of 2022 target. Meanwhile, tourism revenues were VND495 trillion ($21 billion), exceeding the target by 23% thanks to domestic tourism boom, according to the General Statistics Office.

The tourism industry has set a target of eight million foreign tourists for 2023.

CEOs of leading travel firms have expressed optimism about the tourism outlook in 2023 amid positive signs of China’s reopening.

Nguyen Chau A, CEO of Oxalis Adventure, which takes people on exclusive cave tours in the central province of Quang Binh, said he hoped the government would lift visa barriers and focus on tourism promotion campaigns for every market in the new year to take the tourism industry to a new height.

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