Vietnam’s tourism industry continued to struggle in March 2015, as the country experienced a 10th consecutive months of declining visitor numbers.
According to the latest data published by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the country welcomed 617,895 international visitors last month, 12.9% fewer than in March 2014.
This result compounded the year-on-year declines experienced in January and February 2015, and means that for the first quarter of the year arrivals to Vietnam fell 13.7% to just 2.01 million.
The country is being impacted by a sharp drop in the number of visitor arrivals from mainland China – Vietnam’s largest source market. The number of Chinese visitors to Vietnam started declining in the second half of 2014, following anti-Chinese protests in the country. And they have not recovered since; in Q1 2015, Chinese visitor numbers slumped 40.4% to just 350,017, including a 45.6% drop in March alone.
Russia’s economic problems also appear to be impacting Vietnam, with Russian arrivals falling 27.1% in the first quarter of 2015.
The one positive note for Vietnam’s tourism industry is the recent surge in visitors from South Korea. An increasing number of air links between the two countries led to a 31.4% jump in Korean visitors in Q1 2015, to 313,446. Vietnam’s other major Asian visitor source market, Japan, accounted for 172,073 arrivals in Q1, almost unchanged from the same period last year.
Despite the recent decline, mainland China remained Vietnam’s largest source of overseas visitors in Q1 2015, ahead of South Korea, Japan, the US and Taiwan. Russia is still the country’s biggest European source market, ahead of France and the UK.
Arrivals from other ASEAN countries showed mixed results in Q1, with visitation from Singapore up 7.1%, but arrivals from Malaysia (-1.6%) and Thailand (-22.8%) declining.
Vietnam ended 2014 with 7.87 million international arrivals, a 4% improvement compared to 2013.