A relaxation of visa conditions and more air links helped reverting Vietnam tourism’s fortunes in 2015. From a drop of over 15% earlier in 2015, the country finally end up the year with a slight growth in total arrivals of 0.9%. Vietnam received last year 7.94 million travellers, missing its earlier target of eight million international tourists by only a fraction.
Arrivals in December continued to recover from the drop earlier in 2015. Total arrivals in the last month of the year by 15% compared to the same month of 2014. The continuous improvement in tourist arrivals should fully translate this year with a double-digit growth.
Best performing inbound markets in 2015 were South Korea, up by 31.3% to 1.11 million visitors. Korea remains Vietnam’s second largest tourism market behind China, down by 8.5% with 1.78 million arrivals. Singapore progressed by 16.9% last year thanks to new air capacities and, consequently, low fares. Taiwan was Vietnam’s third fastest growing market last year, up by 12.9% over 2014.
Vietnam abolished visa requirements and fees for six countries in 2015: Belarus, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. The new regulation had obviously a stimulating effect on those markets- France excepted. Italy and Spain arrivals progressed by over 10% while tourists from Germany and the UK progressed respectively by 4.7% and 5.2% compared to 2014. France end up 2015 with a slight drop of 1% in total tourist arrivals and is now Vietnam’s third largest source market from Europe, behind Russia and the UK. France however started to grow again from September, showing the benefits of free visa.
Vietnam is likely to see in 2016 a strong growth in total arrivals as more countries will be exempted from visa formalities- They have been talks about Canada, the Netherlands and Switzerland to be exempted from the formalities while ASEAN open sky policies should translate into more flights being launched with other ASEAN member countries.