HCMC – The number of international travelers to Vietnam is expected to plunge by 70%, or 12.5 million visitors, this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, leading to a prolonged period of recovery in the country’s tourism sector.
In March, the country welcomed 449,920 international visitors, the lowest number in recent years.
Travel and entry restrictions have become a strict measure to slow the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which is expected to continue driving foreign tourists away from Vietnam in April, May and June.
Le Tuan Anh, director of the Tourism Information Center at the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, told the Saigon Times that some international tourists remain in the country for a variety of reasons, including flight suspensions and border closures.
Given the deep drop in international tourist arrivals in Vietnam over the past few months, and the recovery in local tourism after the SARS epidemic in 2003 and the 2009 financial crisis, Anh presented three scenarios for the tourism sector to rebound this year.
If the disease is contained by end-June, the country’s tourism would be able to gradually recover, but international tourist arrivals in Vietnam may not witness positive growth, compared with the 2019 figure.
In this scenario, in 2020 the country would see the number of international travelers plummet by 70% against the 2019 figure, to 5.5 million.
In the second scenario, if Covid-19 is brought under control at the end of September, international arrivals would dip by 75% year-on-year to some 4.6 million this year.
If the disease lasts until December, the total international arrivals would plummet by 80% to 3.7 million, equal to the number of foreign visitors in the first quarter of this year, which would be the worst-case scenario.
When the tourism sector rebounds is unknown, Anh said, adding that the sector is expected to make a slow recovery. This year is predicted to record the lowest growth rate for the local tourism sector.