Covid-19 rains on Vietnam’s tourism parade

By Nguyen Quy   December 27, 2020 | 11:30 pm PT
Vietnam recorded a 79 percent decline year-on-year in the number of foreign visitors in 2020 due to travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The country received 3.83 million foreign tourists against a record 18 million in 2019, General Statistics Office data shows. The government in early of the year set a target of 20 million.

Visitors from China, traditionally Vietnam’s largest tourism market, dropped by 83.5 percent to 959,200, followed by South Korea (80.4 percent), and Japan (78.4 percent).

A street in Hoi AN is left deserted, July 2020. Photo by Do Anh Vu.

A street in Hoi An is left deserted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, July 2020. Photo by Do Anh Vu.

Revenue from lodging and food & beverage services was VND510.4 trillion ($22.12 billion), down 13 percent year-on-year, while revenue from travel agencies' services was VND17.9 trillion ($776 million), a 59.5 percent drop.

Vietnam grappled with two waves of Covid-19, the first in late January and the second in late July, which took a serious toll on its tourism.

The government has closed national borders and canceled all international flights since March 25 with only Vietnamese repatriates and foreign experts and highly-skilled workers allowed in with stringent conditions.

The government recently green-lighted the resumption of commercial flights to seven Asian destinations, mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, but Vietnamese carriers are still not allowed to operate inbound flights.

Historic flooding in the central region also put the brakes on tourism. Between early October and mid-November the region and parts of the Central Highlands were hit by a succession of storms that brought torrential rains and caused severe flooding and landslides.

Thanks to its strict quarantine and contact tracing measures, Vietnam has been globally praised for containing Covid-19 outbreaks, keeping the tally at 1,441 and deaths at 35 in a country of 96 million. Many economic powerhouses such as the U.S., Japan, China, and the U.K. were struggling to contain them.

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