Foreign arrivals to Vietnam plummet 79 percent in 2020 hinh anh 1A view of Bai Dai Beach on Phu Quoc Island, a famous tourist destination in Kien Giang province (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Vietnam welcomed only 3.8 million foreign arrivals in 2020, down 78.7 percent from last year, as a result of the serious impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Over 96 percent came to the country in the first quarter, before social distancing measures were imposed.

As the country has yet to reopen to international tourists, most foreign arrivals since the second quarter have been experts and skilled personnel working in projects in the country.

In December alone, the number of foreign arrivals was down 8.1 percent month-on-month and 99 percent year-on-year.

For the year as a whole, foreign visitors coming by air accounted for 80.3 percent of the total, down 78.6 percent against 2019, by road down 81.9 percent, and by sea down 45.2 percent.

Those from Asia made up 73.3 percent of the total, down 80.4 percent, the GSO said, noting that arrivals from all main markets nose-dived, including China, down 83.5 percent, the Republic of Korea 80.4 percent, Japan 78.4 percent, Taiwan (China) 78.8 percent, Cambodia 46.6 percent, and Malaysia 80.7 percent.

Meanwhile, visitors from Europe fell 69 percent and America 75.7 percent compared to 2019, the GSO reported.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) said the country holds many advantages from bringing COVID-19 under control quickly. Domestic travel stimulus programmes have been widely promoted to realise the twin targets of fighting the outbreak and recovering the economy.

Online tourism marketing and communications increased due to the pandemic, VNAT noted, adding that it will boost investment in e-marketing and cooperation with major tech firms around the world to apply the most modern technologies in the tourism sector./.