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Vietnamese tourists are shifting their preference to Asian destinations

Domestic travel companies say affordable prices make destinations in Southeast and Northeast Asia particularly attractive to Vietnamese tourists, eclipsing domestic travel as domestic flight costs rise.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) in Vietnam, the number of Vietnamese visitors to Japan reached more than 107,000 in the first two months of the year, an increase of 40% compared to the same period of 2019.

The number of Vietnamese visitors to Japan in February was the highest ever, at more than 60,000.

The previous highest month was February 2023, with 55,800 visitors.

A Vietnamese tourist in Fukushima, Japan, April 2024. Photo by Vinh Le

A Vietnamese tourist in Fukushima, Japan, April 2024. Photo by Vinh Le

A JNTO representative explained that the sudden increase in the number of Vietnamese visitors to Japan in February was due to the long New Year’s holiday, a weaker yen that made travel to Japan cheaper than before the pandemic, and Japan’s growing popularity among Vietnamese tourists .

The number of Vietnamese visitors to Japan in March and April has not yet been announced, but is expected to rise.

Taiwan and South Korea also saw an increase in the number of Vietnamese visitors in the first quarter. In January alone, the number of Vietnamese visitors to Taiwan reached more than 17,000, ranking it 10th among the top 10 major markets, according to the Taiwan Tourism Administration.

The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) reported that nearly 120,000 Vietnamese tourists visited the country in the first quarter, an increase of 38.9% compared to the same time last year and an increase of 8.5% compared to the same period in 2019.

In 2023, Vietnam was the top Southeast Asian market in terms of the number of general and business tourists visiting South Korea, with more than 420,000 Vietnamese visiting the country, up 140% from 2022 and 74% from 2019 .

Nguyen Huy Hoang, operations director of Klook Vietnam, said the travel e-commerce platform recorded a 63% increase in the number of Vietnamese tourists traveling to Northeast Asia in March, the peak of the cherry blossom season.

Hoang revealed that 87% of tourists surveyed said they spent their entire trip just seeing the blossoms. More than half of Vietnamese users on the Klook platform said they would spend about two weeks on flower season tours, spending an average of $2,500 during that period.

Thi Quoc Duy, Director of the Retail Center at BenThanh Tourist, stated that for the upcoming Reunification Day and Labor Day on April 30 and May 1, as well as the summer holidays, the company’s trips to Japan and South Korea are receiving the most interest awakened and bookings.

They are followed by Southeast Asian travel programs to Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

In Southeast Asia, Thailand and Singapore remain traditional markets for Vietnamese tourists.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand reported that the number of Vietnamese visitors to Thailand in the first two months of the year exceeded 130,400, down 7% compared to the first two months of 2023.

However, it is expected that the number of visitors will increase in the coming summer months.

The authority considers Vietnam to be an important foreign tourist market for Thailand within a short distance. In 2023, Vietnamese visitors were among the top ten markets coming to Thailand, with more than one million visits, equivalent to 96% of the 2019 figure.

Vietnamese tourists attend the Songkran Festival in Bangkok, April 12, 2024. Photo by Nguyen Duc Huy

Vietnamese tourists attend the Songkran Festival in Bangkok, April 12, 2024. Photo by Nguyen Duc Huy

Singapore also recorded a growth in the number of Vietnamese visitors in the first quarter.

As of March 24, the number of Vietnamese visitors reached 93,000, an increase of more than 2,000 compared to the first quarter of 2023, accounting for 40% of the first quarter of 2019, the Singapore Tourism Board said.

In 2023, the flow of Vietnamese tourists to and from Changi International Airport ranked ninth among the top 10 international visitor markets to the airport.

A survey by VnExpress during two major tourism events in April, the Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Festival and the Vietnam International Travel Mart (VITM) in Hanoi, found that travel companies rated international trips as overwhelming domestic trips.

Bui Thanh Tu, marketing director of Best Price, confirmed that customers at both events mainly purchased trips to China and Thailand.

A representative of Hanoi-based Hoang Viet Travel said that after four days at the VITM fair, domestic products accounted for only 25% of sales, while travel to China accounted for 35%, and other markets such as Japan, Europe and the US contributed. 40%.