Foreign arrivals in Vietnam fell for the 10 straight month in March, which also recorded the biggest year-on-year drop of 23.4 percent.
Figures from the General Statistics Office show that foreign visitor numbers dropped to around 543,000 in March, nearly 30 percent fewer than in February.
With January and February figures also down from last year, first quarter arrivals plunged 13.7 percent year-on-year to around two million.
Increases in the number of visitors from traditional markets like Japan and South Korea failed to make up for the 40.4 percent drop in arrivals from China, the major market.
Travel agencies said customers from China and other Chinese-speaking places have not come back since the tensions last summer, when China’s deployment of an oil rig in the East Sea ignited widespread anti-Chinese sentiment.
There were also 11.1 percent fewer tourists from Europe, mostly due to the 27.1 percent fall in Russian visitor numbers due to the fall in the ruble.
Figures from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism show that foreign arrival numbers have been down year-on-year every month since June 2014.
Two Russian women take a coracle at Doc Let Beach in Khanh Hoa Province. Photo credit: Khue Viet Truong/tcdulichtphcm
Tourism firms said external reasons are making it harder to do business, which is already troubled by poor promotion, inconvenient transportation, lack of new destinations and complicated visa procedures.
Vo Anh Tai, general director of Saigontourist, told Saigon Times Online that all the disadvantages are making Vietnam much less attractive than emerging destinations in the region like Myanmar.
Hoang Thi Phong Thu, chairwoman of Anh Duong Company which brings the largest number of Russian tourists to Vietnam, said the government should step in to help wherever it can.
Russian tourists are going increasingly to Egypt since the government there pays for fuel for their charter flights, she said.
Vietnam could make a similar offer to deal with the situation, she said.
“Even though people have less money, they still want to travel and will buy if we have good prices.”