Growth in foreign arrivals slowest in four years hinh anh 1Russian tourists at Ponagar Temple Towers in Khanh Hoa province (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - The number of international tourist arrivals to Vietnam during January-February rose 4.8 percent year on year to 3.23 million, the lowest increase in the past four years, the General Statistics Office of Vietnam (GSO) said on February 29.

According to the GSO, the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has put grave impacts on the tourism sector. In February, the country hosted some 1.24 million people, falling 37.7 percent from January, and 21.8 percent from the same time last year. Particularly, a dramatic drop was seen in the number of tourists from China, Singapore and the Republic of Korea.

In the two-month period, arrivals by air and sea picked up by 8 percent and 146.1 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, visitors travelling to Vietnam by road decreased 20.7 percent.

Asian visitors accounted for 75.1 percent of the total international arrivals, and increased by 4.7 percent year on year. Of which, visitors from China dropped by 5.8 percent, while those from the RoK increased by 2.4 percent, Japan 8 percent, China’s Taiwan 19.9 percent, and Thailand 34.5 percent.

Meanwhile, increases of 8.8 percent and 17.7 percent were recorded in the arrivals from Europe and Africa.

In stark contrast, visitors from the US and Australia dropped 1.9 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.

Earlier, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) estimated that the COVID-19 epidemic could cause losses of 5.9-7.7 billion USD for the domestic tourism sector in the next three months.
The tourism sector estimated a 90 percent decrease in the number of Chinese visitors due to the disease, and a 50-70 percent drop in holidaymakers from other countries.
Meanwhile, the number of domestic holidaymakers is likely to suffer a fall of 50-70 percent.
China, where the outbreak began late last year, has advised its citizens to stay at home. Vietnam has also stemmed the flow of tourists from coronavirus-stricken areas and suspended festivals. International vacationers have stayed away from Asia while many Vietnamese tourists have decided to stay at home.
The VNAT said losses caused by COVID-19 could be huge in both the short and long terms.
The tourism sector has worked out a multitude of plans in response to the epidemic, including sending letters to international friends and partners to inform them of the outbreak situation as well as the country's efforts to ensure safety for visitors.

Besides, VNAT also signed deals with local airlines to support travellers who want to change or cancel flight schedule during the disease outbreak. A wide range of tourism campaigns have been carried out to popularise Vietnam as a safe destination in a move to attract more tourists during summer 2020./.