Experts have dismissed China’s non-inclusion of Vietnam in the list of destinations to which it allows outbound tour groups as no cause for pressure on the latter’s tourism industry.
On Feb. 6 China allowed travel agencies to sell tours to 20 countries and territories under a pilot program, including seven in Southeast Asia, but Vietnam is not in the list.
Dang Manh Phuoc, CEO of travel firm Outbox Consulting, said the Vietnamese tourism industry should observe how the other 20 countries deal with the return of Chinese tourists.
“We can observe the tourism policies of other Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Indonesia to see how to attract Chinese tourists but still ensure pandemic safety.”
Tu Quy Thanh, director of HCMC-based tour operator Lien Bang Travelink and a veteran of over 30 years in the industry, said Vietnam remains an attractive destination for Chinese tourists thanks to its convenient location and beautiful natural landscapes.
Vietnam has more attraction for Chinese visitors than other Southeast Asian countries, but China has not yet allowed tourism to Vietnam due to visa issues, he explained.
Chinese visitors cannot enter Vietnam on their own while those on package tours are not allowed to apply their visa on entry at airports.
Thailand and Indonesia offers visas on arrival for Chinese tourists; Vietnam waives visas for nationals of 24 countries but not Chinese.
Thanh said Vietnam could turn this into an opportunity to amend its visa policies and improve the quality of tourism services to prepare for the return of Chinese tourists.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism called on its Chinese counterpart this week to soon allow group tours to Vietnam to boost tourism recovery in both countries.
In 2019, the year before the onset of the pandemic, Vietnam received 5.5 million Chinese visitors, or 30% of all foreign arrivals.
Last year it received 3.6 million foreign tourists, mainly South Koreans and Americans, and is targeting eight million this year.
HSBC expects Vietnam to receive 3-4.5 million visitors from China this year.
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