This is being seen as a rapid recovery for the domestic tourism industry after the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there are still several grey areas that need to be developed fast so as to offer sustainable tourism within the country.
The domestic tourism industry in Vietnam aimed to welcome 60 million visitors in 2022. According to statistics so far, the number of domestic tourists has already reached 71 million. It is forecast that by the end of 2022, the number of domestic tourists will reach or exceed 85 million visitors, same as the number before the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak in 2019. During the peak summer period from June till the end of August, many domestic destinations are considered very attractive for domestic tourism such as Phu Quoc Island, Da Nang, Hoi An, Hue, Da Lat, and Phan Thiet; or destinations in the North Central region such as Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thanh Hoa, Ha Tinh, and Nghe An; along with some in the Northwest and Northeast areas, in which Quang Ninh with Ha Long Bay draw hundreds of tourists.
Now the tourism industry is having another great opportunity to welcome more visitors during the coming four-day holiday season until early September. This is being considered the final holiday before the coming autumn-winter tourist season. Travel businesses all await the coming holiday week, although it will not record a breakthrough, but it will still provide more business to many tour companies. Saigontourist company says that after the success of the summer tourist season with more than 350,000 visitors, this September holiday the company will focus on ensuring quality service in order to increase more customers by around 30,000 visitors nationwide. Similarly, TST tourist company says that this coming holiday the company will welcome about 1,300 guests.
It is not just a sharp increase in the number of visitors, but the spending habit of domestic tourists is also changing significantly. At the Vietnam Tourism Strength Link Forum held in early August in Ho Chi Minh City, Mr. Nguyen Van Hung, Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, shared that an international visitor spent about US$1,500 in Thailand and about US$1,100 in Vietnam. The spending budget of domestic tourists is also now increasing.
The reason that domestic tourism is now seeing a boom and an impressive recovery so soon after the Covid-19 pandemic is probably because people felt cloistered indoors for too long. When tourism reopened people looked forward to going to nice places to relax. According to the Travel Confidence Index recently reported by Booking.com, which is the world's leading online travel company, Vietnam ranks second in travel confidence, with 85% of Vietnamese tourists planning to travel in the next 12 months. An interesting finding of the survey is that up to 45% of Vietnamese tourists want to travel because they planned their trips before the Covid-19 pandemic but were unable to travel, so now is the time to go to destinations of their choice.
Since the foreign tourism sector is still not favorable, domestic tourism has become the first choice of tourists. Another reason for the rapid recovery of domestic tourism shows that Vietnam's economy is gradually recovering strongly after the Covid-19 pandemic. A large number of people still maintain a good income and are motivated to travel more to new locations.
Quality service essential
Mr. Nguyen Van Hung pointed out the reality of domestic tourism exploitation is in providing good products and services. At the moment, it is possible to exploit guests, but in the long run, it may not be possible. According to Mr. Nguyen Van Hung, over the last few years, the press has reflected on the many strengths and weaknesses of the tourism sector, from services to products. If there is no pressure, it is unlikely that there will be the current expected number of visitors. Mr. Nguyen Van Hung believes that this requires businesses to think carefully and do business methodically, after much re-evaluation. If tourism businesses continue providing poor quality products, it will be difficult to see recovery and growth in domestic tourism in Vietnam.
In fact, when the number of tourists exploded, joy also brought much anxiety because many shortcomings were revealed. In particular, the situation of cutting costs prevailed in many places which made so many tourists angry, worsening the image of many localities. Some serious cases had to even involve state management agencies.
Recently, the People’s Committee of Nha Trang City fined Ngoc Phu restaurant in Vinh Nguyen Ward with VND 21 mln. The restaurant was accused by tourists of cost cutting on three portions of beef stir-fry noodles with only four to five small pieces of dry and tough meat priced at up to VND 600,000 VND or VND 200,000 per serving. The Ngoc Phu restaurant was sanctioned for errors and an unclear price list, and so far, has not yet been issued a certificate for food safety. More importantly, this was not the only such incident in this coastal city. Before that, there were many complaints from tourists visiting Nha Trang.
In order to prevent such unpleasant incidents of cheating of tourists, many localities, especially tourist destinations that attract many tourists, have increased inspections and handling of price listings at tourist service establishments. However, along with the price problem, the shortage of human resources is also proving to be a headache for tourism businesses. According to statistics, over 90% of tourist accommodation establishments in the country have returned back to normal operations, with more than 34,000 establishments and 700,000 rooms.
However, the number of employees in these tourist accommodation establishments is only about 300,000 people, many of whom are not even fully trained. Because of a lack of human resources, many part-time and inexperienced workers are becoming part of the main working force in many hotels, including high-end hotels. This is because most of the employees who quit their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic have now moved on to other jobs and are unwilling to come back to their old jobs. Currently, almost all tourism businesses are scrambling to hire the right personnel to bring about a recovery of the entire tourism industry in Vietnam.