More foreigners touching down in Vietnam, but belts have been tightened

By Staff reporters   December 7, 2017 | 03:26 am PT
More foreigners touching down in Vietnam, but belts have been tightened
Foreign visitors in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Huong Chi
And whether they come back is another big question.

The number of foreign tourists arriving in Vietnam has been rising steadily, but new data has revealed that they are spending less.

The average foreign visitor in Vietnam spent $1,283 in 2004, well below the amount they spent in Thailand ($1,865) and Singapore ($2,670).

Shopping made up the largest slice of the pie in Vietnam, accounting for 16.6 percent of total spending, compared to 19.6 percent in Thailand and 22.3 percent in Singapore, according to the General Statistics Office.

A survey conducted by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) in 2014 found that foreigners spent on average $1,114 in Vietnam, falling from a decade before.

VNAT also found in August this year that up to 80 percent of tourists said they would not return to Vietnam after their first trip to the country.

Ken Atkinson, chairman of Grant Thornton and vice chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board, said he “personally believes the actual return rate for tourists is actually lower than the quoted 20 percent, as some reports record return tourists at less than 10 percent.”

The main reason for the low return rate is that Vietnam has yet to really establish itself as a destination for family holidays, as Thailand and Indonesia have managed to do. It is believed that the return rate for tourists in Thailand is closer to 50 percent, he told VnExpress International.

In order to establish itself as a family destination, he suggested that Vietnam should have a more friendly visa regime, more activities for family recreations and better infrastructure, as well as higher quality services and safer roads.

“Nevertheless, our tourism numbers continue to boom but we need to start to look at the quality of those tourists and their average spend in country,” he said.

Vietnam is on track to receive as many as 12.8 million foreign tourists this year, a rise of 28 percent against 2016.

Official data from the General Statistics Office show more than 11.6 million foreign tourists arrived in Vietnam between January and November this year, up 28 percent against the same period last year.

Last year, foreign visitors surged 26 percent from the previous year, reaching an unexpected all-time high of 10 million.

In 2015, Vietnam received 7.9 million tourists and forecast just 8.5 million for 2016.

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