Tourism Surges In 2010 Figures released by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) in January 2011 showed that the country experienced a stellar 2010. Foreign arrivals grew by an impressive 40% year-on-year (yo- y) over 2009, with the total number of visitors standing at 5.16mn. This made Vietnam the best performing market in the region, which is particularly impressive given that it has traditionally lagged regional market leaders India and Thailand.
The country’s 2010 performance marked a strong rebound from 2009, when arrivals slumped by 13.7% yo- y. Vietnam benefited from strong regional growth, with arrivals from Asia Pacific growing by 7.74% yo- y in 2010. This suggests that Vietnam has become well established as a regional tourist location, potentially attracting visitors who may be unwilling to go to the larger tourist markets. We expect Vietnam’s performance to remain strong, with a 2011 arrivals forecast of 5.58mn.
Tourism Designated As Key Sector The Vietnamese government formally designated tourism as an ‘economic spearhead’ in February 2011, meaning that it is now viewed as a key strategic sector. This reflects the growing importance of tourism to the country and particularly its strong rebound following the economic slowdown. Accordingly, the government is now aiming to boost the sector’s economic contribution to 4.5% of GDP in 2011. To this end, the authorities will look to boost programmes to enhance the sector, particular for sea and ecotourism, which remain relatively underdeveloped compared to the sector as a whole. This new designation should benefit the tourism sector as it will now represent a greater priority for the government and should result in more long-term planning and investment for the tourism industry.
Government Vetoes New Airline The Vietnamese government in January vetoed a proposed new airline serving business travellers. National carrier Vietnam Airlines had proposed launching the new airline, to be called VNJet, as part of a joint venture with Hanoi Import Export Joint Stock Company and financial group An Binh. The new carrier had hoped to attract business passengers, but the government said that it would prefer Vietnam Airlines to focus all its attention on its current operations. The establishment of VNJet has not been ruled out altogether, but the government noted that it should form part of Vietnam Airlines’ efforts to establish VietAir, a joint stock company.