H1 foreign arrivals plummet 56 pct

By Nguyen Quy   June 29, 2020 | 04:59 am PT
H1 foreign arrivals plummet 56 pct
Foreigners row a boat near Mua Cave (Hang Mua) in the northern province of Ninh Binh, in March 2020. Photo by Shutterstock/OlegD.
With Vietnam’s borders remaining closed as a Covid-19 preventive measure, foreign visitor numbers in H1 dropped 55.8 percent year-on-year to 3.74 million.

Vietnam received 2.72 million Asians in the first half of the year, down 58.4 percent from a year ago, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO). They accounted for over 72 percent of total foreign arrivals.

Tourist arrivals from China and South Korea, Vietnam’s biggest feeder markets, dropped by 63 percent to 919,000 and 60.4 percent to 823,000, respectively, as Vietnam suspended all international flights to the two Asian countries since February.

The GSO estimates Jan-June tourism revenue at VND10.3 trillion ($443 million), down 53.2 percent year-on-year.

June alone saw the number of foreign arrivals fall by 99.3 percent year-on-year to 8,800. Arrivals this month mainly comprised foreign experts and highly-skilled workers granted special entry to work for economic projects in Vietnam.

The country has suspended all international flights since March 25 and banned entry of foreign nationals since March 22 except for special cases.

Luong Hoai Nam, member of the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), told VnExpress that it was hard to reopen doors to foreign tourists at this time as a second wave of Covid-19 has broken out in Asia.

"If negotiations with countries in Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania are conducted soon, the reopening of some international routes in the next three months is feasible. However, European and North American markets will require a longer wait because the Covid-19 situation there is still very complicated," he added.

Nicolas Audier, chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham), urged Vietnam to resume international flights with Europe as the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is slated to take effect in August, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

At a government meeting in Hanoi last week, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stated that Vietnam was not yet ready to open up to international tourists given the lack of improvement in the global situation and the second wave of infections suffered by several countries including China and South Korea.

Vietnam has gone 74 days without community transmission of the novel coronavirus. It has recorded 355 infections without any deaths. With five patients confirmed to have recovered on Monday, the country now has 20 active cases.

The virus has claimed over 490,000 lives in 212 countries and territories.

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