Vietnam is world’s seventh fastest growing travel destination

By Nguyen Quy   February 5, 2020 | 10:30 pm PT
Vietnam is world’s seventh fastest growing travel destination
Foreigners drink beer in Bui Vien pedestrian street in downtown HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Vietnam has jumped three places from last year to seventh in the list of world's fastest growing travel destinations, according to a UN report.

The country is in the midst of a tourism boom, and its visitor numbers last year rose at one of the fastest rates in the world - 16.2 percent to 18 million - the 2019 Tourism Highlight report released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on Wednesday said.

Myanmar had the fastest growth rate of 40.2 percent followed by Puerto Rico (31.2 per cent) and Iran (27.9 percent). Another Southeast Asian country in the top 10 was the Philippines (15.1 percent), which was ninth on the list.

International tourist numbers grew by 4 percent in 2019 to 1.5 billion despite trade tensions and a global economic slowdown.

France remained the most visited country with more than 90 million visitors, followed by Spain with 83.8 million.

But the tourism industry, including hotels, airlines, casinos, and restaurants, is expected to suffer massively due to the new coronavirus outbreak which first broke out in December in China.

The tourism industry in China and countries that rely on Chinese tourists would suffer the most and have immediate repercussions, industry insiders said.

As of Thursday morning the nCoV had killed 565 out of the number of confirmed cases of over 28,200, mostly in mainland China. So far 1,170 people have recovered.

Vietnam has launched an online visa system for travelers on short holidays and casual business trips. It has also added 35 more countries, including emerging tourism markets in Europe, to the list of those whose nationals can visit the country with e-visas, expanding the list to 80 countries.

Visitors from Russia, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Belarus will continue to enjoy visa exemptions for three more years after expiring at the end of last year.

European countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Belarus are emerging tourism markets for Vietnam. Western Europeans spend an average of $1,316 per trip as compared to the overall spending of $900, official data shows.

With its visa waivers, the government expects 20.5 million visitors in 2020 and revenues of $35 billion, equivalent to 10 percent of GDP.

The country welcomed around two million foreign visitors in January, a 32.8 percent increase, nearly 77 percent from other Asian countries.

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