The number of foreign tourists to Vietnam reached only 3.8 million in the first eight months of 2020, down by 66.6% compared to the figure of 11.3 million recorded in the same period last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted travel.
|Foreign tourists in Ha Giang, Vietnam
The number was announced by the General Statistics Office (GSO) over the weekend.
Most of the arrivals were before March 22, the day Vietnam started closing its border to nearly all foreign arrivals in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The country only in recent months allows a few exceptions – foreign diplomats, investors, highly skilled workers and experts, along with some flights repatriating Vietnamese citizens. All foreign entries are quarantined for 14 days upon arrival.
Of the 3.8 million, 3.05 million arrived in Vietnam by air, while 580,000 and 140,000 entered the country via land and sea routes.
The GSO said while 163,000 foreign arrivals in August is an improvement of 17% compared to July, it still marks a 99% decline compared to the number in 2019.
Visitors from Asia, accounting for more than 73% of the total number of international arrivals to Vietnam this year, fell by nearly 70% over the same period last year.
Arrivals from key markets such as China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand, and Malaysia all posted record losses of 72%, 70.5%, 67%, 68%, 59%, and 70%, respectively, within the eight months of 2020.
However, arrivals from neighbouring Cambodia increased by nearly 71%, according to the GSO.
Visitors from Europe in the past eight months were estimated to fall by nearly 55% over the same period of 2019.
Arrivals from the Americas are estimated to have decreased by more than 65% compared to the first eight months of 2019.
In a cabinet meeting held on late last week, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked that the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control and ministries discuss opening flights to epidemiologically safe countries and regions, including resuming flights to Japan conducted by Vietnamese airlines.
He also urged ministries and agencies to closely monitor and accelerate granting of visas to foreign experts and investors.
Deputy Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism Ha Van Sieu in a recent recovery-focused tourism meeting said the Government implemented policies early to aid people and businesses hit hard by the pandemic.
Hotels and tourism accommodation businesses that registered to be used as paid quarantine facilities for COVID-19 patients or foreign entries into the country will enjoy a 20 percent cut in electricity rates, while many fees such as appraisal fee for international travel business licences, domestic tour business licences, and for issuance of tour guide certificates have been cut in half, Sieu said.