Việt Nam urged to improve services to lure foreign tourists

December 30, 2022 - 08:24
Việt Nam needs comprehensive measures, including improving service quality and removing all restrictions related to visa policies, to attract more foreign tourists, experts said.
Local and foreign tourists at the popular Bùi Viện ‘backpacker street’ in downtown HCM City. — VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp

HCM CITY — Việt Nam needs comprehensive measures, including improving service quality and removing all restrictions related to visa policies, to attract more foreign tourists, experts said.

In March, Việt Nam was one of the first Southeast Asian countries to fully reopen to international tourism after the COVID-19 pandemic was put under control.

However, total foreign arrivals for 2022 are estimated at 3.5 million, or only 70 per cent of the target of 5 million.

Meanwhile, many of regional neighbours, including Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia, have achieved their annual targets for the year.

Việt Nam has set a modest target of only eight million foreign tourists for 2023, according to the Việt Nam National Administration of Tourism.

In 2019, the year before the pandemic hit, Việt Nam’s foreign tourist arrivals surged 20 per cent from the previous year to a record high 18 million.

Figures from tourism agencies have shown that Việt Nam only has a 5 per cent tourism return rate compared to Thailand’s 50 per cent rate.

Experts attributed the problems to complicated visa policies, poor services and ineffective tourism promotion resources.

Some foreign tourists have complained when travelling around Việt Nam that they were overcharged and treated poorly by locals.

Travel blogger Derek Freal said: “In nearby Thailand, the citizens have for decades maintained the perfect balance between treating foreign guests well, giving them a great experience and profiting immensely while also leaving them with the urge to return.”

Thailand has set a target of receiving 20 million foreign tourists in 2023 (it welcomed around 10 million foreign guests this year).

Singapore plans next year to double its six million international visitors this year.


Experts proposed a number of measures to attract and keep foreign tourists returning to Việt Nam, including to develop a national tourism development programme.

Nguyễn Văn Hùng, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said it was important to remove institutional obstacles related to regulations on entry and exit, transit and duration of stay to make it more convenient for international tourists.

To attract foreign visitors, it’s necessary to facilitate e-visa issuance, he said.​

Foreign tourists take a photo at Nguyễn Huệ pedestrian-friendly street in downtown HCM City. — VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp

Vũ Thế Bình, Chairman of the Việt Nam Tourism Association, said to ensure a sustainable tourism recovery, besides domestic tourism, measures, including personnel training, should be taken to ramp up international tourism.

It’s vital to continue improving the quality of tourism services to compete with other countries.

Other solutions include applying digital transformation to tourism development; supporting travel companies and related industries with capital, taxes and fees to invest in the tourism recovery; as well as opening more international flight routes.

Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính, speaking at a recent meeting, stressed that tourism is an important economic sector, and called for comprehensive measures to ensure its sustainable development.

Chính told travel agencies and localities to have an “innovative approach” towards tourism.

“We must provide services that tourists need, not only available services that we have,” he said.

He said it was more important than ever to improve tourism services to make tourists want to return and inspire others to visit Việt Nam. — VNS