Tourism industry insiders are worried about a sharp decline in Russian arrivals as three major tour operators have been banned from conducting business activities in Russia.
Pegas Touristik, Anex Tour and Coral Travel, accounting for 70 percent of the Russian tourists in Vietnam, are among 19 companies unable to secure license renewals last month, which means they will not be allowed to run tourism operations in Russia, according to media reports.
The three are said to have business ties to Turkey, which upset Russia with the downing of a Russian jet in November.
Tour operators in Vietnam are worried that the peak season for Russian tourists, which started in October may end soon. Usually it would last through March.
They said the bad news came after the market bounced back slightly in October, after months of decline following the fall of the ruble.
Around 340,000 Russians visited Vietnam in 2015, a 7 percent drop from the previous year, according to figures from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.
Most of them came to the central resort town Nha Trang and Phu Quoc island in the south, staying for 12 days on average.
A resort owner in Nha Trang said Russians contribute the most to local tourism revenues.
“If they stop coming, it will be a very big loss to us,” the owner said, as cited by Tuoi Tre.
But Russian tourism officials said the hiccup should not be a big deal as there are still other tour providers who can take over.
Owner of a local resort also said that the market will survive as Russians’ demand for tropical beach destinations like Vietnam is huge, especially after Russia turns it back on Turkey and Egypt.
Hoang Thi Phong Thu, chairwoman of Pegas Misr Travel Vietnam which is the local partner of Pegas Touristik in Nha Trang, told Tuoi Tre that the Russian company has informed her that it will set up a new company under Russian regulations to resume the service soon.
Le Van Nghia, director of a local tourism company, said Vietnam’s tourism insiders just need to promote Vietnam better and offering good prices.
With stronger promotional efforts, more Russians will come, he said.