Number of Chinese tourists to remain modest: travel firms

By Phuong Anh   March 15, 2023 | 07:05 pm PT
Number of Chinese tourists to remain modest: travel firms
A group of Chinese tourists enter Vietnam via Lao Cai international border gate, March 15, 2023. Photo by VNA
Though China has started allowing its citizens to travel again to Vietnam, tour companies expect the number of Chinese tourists to remain "modest" amid the global economic slowdown.

Nguyen Minh Sang, vice chairman of the Da Nang Travel Association, said there would be no Chinese tour groups to the city since direct routes have not yet been reopened and traveling through HCMC or Hanoi would be expensive.

"Chinese tourists will not flock to Vietnam like they did before the pandemic."

Tour operators need more time to work with their Chinese partners on visa issues, air tickets and tour programs before finding customers, he added.

After three years of Covid lockdowns the Chinese government has allowed its nationals to visit 60 countries, including Vietnam.

Trinh Dang Thanh, deputy director of the Quang Ninh Province Department of Tourism in the province bordering China, said only small groups of Chinese tourists would be visiting his province, home to Ha Long Bay, in the coming days.

On Wednesday 37 arrived via the Mong Cai border gate and the group would be visiting Ha Long and Hanoi on a four-day itinerary.

Nguyen Le Binh, a representative of the Guangxi Overseas Travel Company based in China's Guangxi Province, said her company has not yet received tour bookings from any Chinese tourists.

"Tour operators in both countries still have to work with authorities to see how the visa procedures go before picking up guests."

The global economic headwinds are expected to limit travel by Chinese, which could affect Vietnam's plans to welcome them back after the long hiatus.

Huynh Phan Phuong Hoang, deputy general director of leading tour operator Vietravel, said Chinese tourists have not yet arrived in large numbers due to high costs.

China used to be Vietnam's biggest source of foreign tourists until the Covid pandemic hit, with 5.5 million people coming from that country in 2019.

HSBC forecast Vietnam could receive three to 4.5 million visitors from China this year, equivalent to 50-80% of pre-pandemic levels.

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