2020: Vietnam Tourism strives to revive from global pandemic with unprecedented difficulties

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- In 2020, Vietnam’s tourism industry faced an unprecedented crisis because of COVID-19 but it is also a year marked with many unforgettable achievements.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused the international tourism of the world in 2020 back to levels of 30 years ago. Despite Viet Nam being a country assessed to be successful in dealing with the pandemic, Viet Nam tourism cannot be out of the challenges and difficulties by COVID-19. In addition, in the last months of the year, the Central Region Viet Nam also suffered from terrible floods and consequences from numbers storms and tropical depressions. Vietnam's tourism industry therefore had faced unprecedented difficulties.

Golden Bridge, Ba Na Hill, Danang City

Visitors plummeted, many tourism businesses stopped working

Vietnam's tourism industry entered the year 2020 with inheriting the high growth momentum of the 2016-2019 period. In January, international visitor arrivals to Viet Nam reached nearly 2 million, the highest level in history. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 right after that had immediately negative impacts on tourism. Since late March, international tourism activities in Viet Nam have been suspended. Domestic tourism has also been seriously affected.

In July 2020, after 99 days without any cases of community infection of COVID-19, Da Nang had a second outbreak. The pandemic reappeared as a punch on Da Nang in particular and Viet Nam tourism in general. Not yet recovering, businesses continued to experience new difficulties. The rate of cancellation of tour and hotel booking went up to more than 90% in many localities.

Not only having to deal with pandemic, the tourism industry also had to constantly suffer from unusual natural disasters. Starting in October, the Central Region had been hit by 13 consecutive tropical storms, causing the worst floods and landslides in the past 100 years.

The COVID-19 pandemic ended the chain of average growth of over 21.6% / year in the 2016-2019 period of Vietnam tourism. By the end of year 2020, the targets of the tourism industry are all sharply reduced. According to General Statistics Office of Viet Nam, international visitors to the country only reached about 3.83 million arrivals, down 78.7% compared to 2019. Domestic visitor trippers were estimated at 56 million, down 34.1%. Total tourism receipts were VND 312,200 billion, down 58.7%.

According to estimates of the tourism industry, Vietnam tourism would lose USD19 billion in 2020. Many international travel businesses stopped operating. Approximate 1/5 of total accommodation establishments closed; 1/3 operated moderately; average occupancy rate was only 20-25%.

Revived from the storm

In 2020, the tourism industry made efforts to overcome difficulties to effectively carry out the Government's instructions to implement the dual goal: both preventing pandemic and actively restructuring the tourist market, thereby contributing to the recovery of the industry operation, preparing the best conditions to enter the period of strong growth post-pandemic. Many results had been recorded as a great endeavor of the tourism industry in the last year. 

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has actively coordinated with relevant ministries and agencies to quickly give instructions to restore tourism activities; promptly proposed to the Government solutions for preventing pandemic, including the promulgation of a set of criteria for ensuring the safety in business in travel enterprises, tourist sites, tourist accommodations, and other tourist services. Government has agreed reducing electricity prices for tourist accommodations; reducing land rent for tourism businesses, reducing some fees and charges in tourism activities.

The ministry also launched two domestic tourism stimulus programs with the theme "Vietnamese people travel to Vietnam" and "Viet Nam Tourism: Safe and Attractive" after each controlling COVID-19 outbreak in the country, contributing to reactivation of businesses. The domestic tourism stimulus program attracted the participation of many departments, associations, localities and businesses. Tourism industry focused more to domestic tourism market and also renewing tourism forms, to build attractive products and services that suit the demands of tourists in a new context, opening up a direction for sustainable development.

When the pandemic broke out for the second time, Chairman of the VNAT, Mr. Nguyen Trung Khanh determined "it is impossible to wait for the next opportunity but to continue to take action to break the ice of the market, adjust the target objects and the method of stimulating the market demand". 

In addition to the economic impacts, the Covid-19 pandemic also radically changes the tourist needs and psychology of the people. Foreseeing this trend, businesses quickly deployed many new types of tourism, with the criteria of safety and limited crowds such as short tour, staycation, virtual tour, ecotourism, community tourism or wellness tourism...

Along with that, the wave of tourism digital transformation as well as the application of smart technology in tourism has also been actively utilized, making it easy for visitors to check the quality and safety of the destination.

Every effort has brought results. Through a stormy year, Viet Nam still affirms its attraction through dozens of international awards and regularly appears in prestigious travel magazines of the world.

Son Doong Cave, Quang Binh Province

In November, at the World Travel Awards (WTA), Viet Nam tourism won in many categories of awards such as the World's Leading Heritage Destination. This was the second consecutive year that Viet Nam had received this prestigious award. Besides, Viet Nam continued to be honored as Asia's Leading Cultural Destination, Heritage Destination and Culinary Destination, together with the title of Asia's Best Golf Destination.

In August 2020, the American magazine Travel + Leisure ranked Viet Nam 16th in the list of 20 best countries for solo travelers.

In December, with Best for food, the famous travel magazine Lonely Planet selected Viet Nam among 10 destinations perfect for solo travel with the comment: “if only one Southeast Asian food nation can be crowned the crème de la crème, it’s Vietnam".

With a score of 92.12, readers of the prestigious American travel magazine Condé Nast Traveller (CNTraveler) voted Viet Nam ranked 9th among the 20 best countries in the world 2020. CNTraveler also selected Southern Viet Nam to be among the 21 Best Places to Go in 2021.

By 2021, the difficulties for Vietnamese tourism still exist, when Covid-19 broke out at the beginning of the year. However, the Vietnamese tourism industry, after a year of "storming", will surely have experiences to turn risks into opportunities, effort to improve service quality, diversify tourism products, build brand name and prepare the best conditions to promptly attract effectively the international visitors when the pandemic is under global control.

Tourism Information Technology Center