The widely reported statistics about tourism in Vietnam, according to which only 6 percent of surveyed tourists said they were visiting the country for the second time, have been taken out of context, the survey organizer said.
The survey was carried out by the EU-funded Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism Capacity Development Program on 600 English speaking foreign tourists at five tourist attractions: the mountainous resort town of Sapa, Ha Long Bay, Hue and Da Nang Cities in central Vietnam, and Hoi An Town.
Conducted in March-April and July-August this year, the survey shows that approximately 90 percent of international respondents are first-time visitors.
Kai Partale, an expert working for the EU program, argued that the quoted 6 percent figure failed to factor in non-English speaking tourists, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian and French nationals. Furthermore, tourists who did not visit those five destination were unaccounted for, Partale said.
According to the survey, third-time and fourth-time visitors represent 2 percent and 3.2 percent of tourists, respectively. Based on projections for the entire year, 11.2 percent of visitors chose to return to Vietnam, the program organizer said.
According to the General Department of Statistics, returning foreign tourists accounted for approximately 34 percent of visitors last year. Up to 66.1 percent of foreign tourists visited Vietnam for the first time, while 20.1 percent and 13.8 percent came for the second and third time respectively.
Implemented from 2011-2015, the 11 million euro program is the largest technical assistance project to support the Vietnamese tourism sector, aiming to introduce a number of regulations on responsible tourism.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism are in charge of the project.