Vietnam Tourism 2020: COVID-19 caused an unprecedented crisis, but it was also a year filled with many unforgettable achievements.
Visitors dropped precipitously, and many tourism businesses went out of business.
The tourism industry in Vietnam entered the year 2020 with the high growth momentum of the 2016-2019 period. International visitor arrivals in Vietnam reached nearly 2 million in January, the highest level in history. However, the subsequent outbreak of COVID-19 had an immediate negative impact on tourism. International tourism activities in Vietnam have been halted since late March. Domestic tourism has also suffered significantly.
Da Nang experienced a second outbreak in July 2020, after 99 days with no cases of COVID-19 community infection. The pandemic struck Da Nang, in particular, and Viet Nam tourism in general. Businesses are still struggling to recover and are facing new challenges.
Not only did the tourism industry have to deal with pandemics, but it also had to deal with unusual natural disasters on a regular basis. Beginning in October, the Central Region was pummeled by 13 consecutive tropical storms, resulting in the worst floods and landslides in 100 years.
The COVID-19 pandemic halted Vietnam tourism’s average annual growth rate of more than 21.6 percent from 2016 to 2019. The tourism industry’s targets have all been sharply reduced by the end of 2020. According to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, international visitors to the country totaled approximately 3.83 million, a 78.7 percent decrease from 2019. Domestic visitor trippers were estimated to be 56 million, a 34.1 percent decrease. Tourism receipts totaled VND 312,200 billion, a 58.7 percent decrease.
According to industry estimates, Vietnam tourism will lose USD19 billion in 2020. Many international travel companies ceased operations. Approximately one-fifth of all lodging establishments closed; one-third operated at a moderate level; and the occupancy rate was only 20-25 percent.
Reborn after the storm
Vietnam tourism 2020 made efforts to overcome challenges in carrying out the Government’s instructions to implement the dual goal of stopping disease outbreak and assertively re – structuring the tourist market, thereby contributing to the rehabilitation of the industry’s operation and preparing the best conditions to enter the period of significant growth post-pandemic. Many achievements have been made in the tourist economy in the last year.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism actively coordinated with relevant ministries and agencies to quickly restore tourism activities; promptly proposed to the Government solutions for trying to prevent disease outbreak, such as the enactment of a list of requirements for improving the protection in business in travel businesses, tourist hotspots, tourist accommodation facilities, and other tourist services. The company has pledged to lower electricity costs for tourist accommodations, lower land rent for tourism enterprises, and lower some fees and charges associated with tourism activities.
After successfully controlling the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, the ministry also acquired two domestic tourism stimulus programs with the themes “Vietnamese people travel to Vietnam” and “Viet Nam Tourism: Safe and Attractive.” Many departments, affiliations, localities, and businesses took part in the domestic tourism stimulus package. The tourism industry has shifted its focus to the domestic tourism market while also reinventing tourism forms in order to create appealing products and services that meet the needs of tourists in a new context, paving the way for long-term development.
When the pandemic struck again, Mr. Nguyen Trung Khanh, Chairman of the VNAT, determined that “it is unthinkable to wait for the next chance but to keep taking activity to interrupt the ice of the market, modify the keypoints and the method of stimulating market demand.”
Aside from the economic consequences, the Covid-19 pandemic has a significant impact on tourist needs and psychology. Businesses quickly deployed many new types of tourism, with the criteria of safety and limited crowds, anticipating this trend, such as short tour, staycation, guided tour, nature tourism, society tourism, or wellness tourism…
In addition, the wave of tourism digital transformation, as well as the application of smart technology in tourism, has been actively used, making it easy for visitors to check the quality and safety of the destination.
Every effort has yielded results. Despite a turbulent year, Viet Nam maintains its allure with dozens of external awards and accolades and regular appearances in the world’s most prestigious travel magazines.
Viet Nam tourism won many awards at the World Travel Awards (WTA) in November, including World’s Leading Heritage Destination. This was Viet Nam’s second consecutive year receiving this prestigious award. In addition, Viet Nam was named Asia’s Leading Cultural Destination, Heritage Destination, and Culinary Destination, as well as Asia’s Best Golf Destination.
The American magazine Travel + Leisure ranked Vietnam 16th on its list of the top 20 top countries for solo travelers in August 2020.
Readers of the prestigious American travel magazine Condé Nast Traveller (CNTraveler) ranked Vietnam 9th among the 20 best countries in the world in 2020, with a score of 92.12. Southern Vietnam was also named one of the 21 Best Places to Visit in 2021 by CNTraveller.
When Covid-19 broke out at the start of the year in 2021, the difficulties for Vietnamese tourism remained. However, after a year of “storming,” the Vietnamese tourism industry will undoubtedly have learned how to turn risks into opportunities, enhance the effectiveness, broaden tourism products, build brand name, and prepare the best conditions to attract international visitors as soon as the disease outbreak is now under global control.