Hanoi (VNA) – Domestic travel is now viewed as a lifesaver for Vietnam’s tourism industry given that the sector has been struggling to adapt to the “new normal” as COVID-19 restrictions and border closures remain in place.

Domestic travel plays a major role in boosting the country’s smoke-free industry recently, according to a report by the Institute for Tourism Development Research (ITDR) delivered at a forum on April 15 – 16.

The national domestic tourism forum, themed “Domestic Tourism – Power Force for Recovering Vietnam’s Tourism in New Normal Situation,” gathering thousands of policymakers and tourism-related enterprises to discuss ways to promote the domestic segment.

It is the opening activity of the annual Vietnam Travel Mart (VITM) 2021, which will take place in Hanoi on May 5 – 8.

Domestic market now lifesaver for tourism in “new normal” hinh anh 1Adventure tours have become trendy among Vietnamese young travellers over recent years. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Revenue from domestic travel posted a 2.1-fold increase from 158 trillion VND in 2015 to 334 trillion VND (14.5 billion USD) in 2019, representing an average growth of 20.5 percent annually.

Domestic tourists soared 50 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year to 57 million. The figure rose to 85 million in 2019, up 49.1 percent from 2015.

Vietnam’s tourism development strategy by 2030 also highlights the significance of domestic tourism. The strategy aims to develop both international and domestic segments, boost on-spot exports via tourism, strengthen linkages to bring into the full play the country’s natural and cultural heritages, diversify tourism products, expand tourism markets and improve the industry’s competitiveness.

The unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, like a typhoon, has swept through many parts of the world, wreaking havoc on tourism and aviation. From an industry enjoying an annual two-digit growth and contributing nearly 10 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), tourism fell to its lowest level ever, with thousands of firms going bankrupt or suspending operations and millions of workers left jobless.

Domestic market now lifesaver for tourism in “new normal” hinh anh 2Miss Universe Vietnam 2017 H’Hen Nie on her adventurous tour to explore Son Doong Cave, the world’s largest known cave. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

As international travel seems to not resume anytime soon; domestic tourism is keeping the sector afloat.  

According to Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung, Vietnam’s tourism sector relies heavily on international travel, with the number of international tourist arrivals seen as a measurement of success.

The sector seems to miss out on opportunities from the local market, Hung said, urging for greater push to domestic travel.

The tourism development strategy sets for the sector to serve at least 120 million domestic visitors and grow 6 – 7 percent annually by 2025. The industry is expected to serve at least 160 million local travellers and sustain an annual growth of 5 – 6 percent by 2030.

It is also striving to maintain the domestic segment’s contribution to total revenue at around 41 – 45 percent. Provided that the goal is achieved, revenue from domestic holidaymakers will reach about 740 – 810 trillion VND by 2025 and 1.31 – 1.44 quadrillion VND by 2030.

Domestic market now lifesaver for tourism in “new normal” hinh anh 3Adventure tours have become trendy among Vietnamese young travellers over recent years. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

To this end, Minister Hung requested the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) to adopt exclusive and specific policies for domestic travel; encourage the development of new tourism products, particularly in disadvantaged but highly potential areas; and support local communities in delivering safe services at the time of COVID-19 and forming a network for stimulating domestic demand.

Additionally, the VNAT must accelerate market research and gain insight into different market segments so as to lay a basis for the development of new products and suitable promotion strategies, he said.

He further added that tourism businesses must also reinvent themselves with a long-term strategy to boost domestic demand./.