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Falling March foreign arrivals signal low inbound season

The number of international tourist arrivals in March has dipped month-on-month, accounting for only 82.4% of last month’s, but the number is still 18.7% higher than the same period last year.

The General Statistics Office (GSO) reported the country this month has welcomed nearly 562,000 international visitors, taking the total number of foreign tourists to Vietnam in the year to date to over 1.87 million, up 24.5% year-on-year.

According to GSO, arrivals from China, the nation’s biggest visitor-generating market, has slowed down this year, with some 101,500 Chinese estimated to have arrived this month, or a rise of 5.2% year-on-year.

Meanwhile, other inbound markets of the nation have shown no considerable changes except for the Russian market. After becoming one of Vietnam’s top ten visitor-generating markets last month, the growth rate of Russian travelers remains high, at up to 27.1% this month.

A number of inbound travel agencies in HCMC have recorded optimistic business results in the first quarter of the year. However, other companies have predicted the local tourism industry would face poor foreign arrivals in the coming time.

Nguyen Quoc Ky, general director of Vietravel, said the segment would suffer tough times this year, citing high tour prices as the main reason.

Local people are enjoying cheap prices for their outbound travel while tour prices offered by local firms have continuously risen. In fact, tour prices are the decisive factor to attract tour buyers given the current economic constraints.

“We have yet to see any positive outlook for inbound tourism in the months to come,” Ky added.

* Two foreign cruise ships, Saga Ruby of the United Kingdom and Amadea Germany, arrived at Saigon Port on Tuesday morning with nearly 1,000 tourists on board.

Some 480 tourists on board Amadea are scheduled to visit famous tourist attractions in HCMC like Ben Thanh Market and Giac Lam Pagoda and watch water puppet shows and traditional music performances. Besides, they will be taken to My Tho in Tien Giang Province and Lai Thieu in Binh Duong Province to visit local people and the well-known Minh Long ceramics workshop.

Meanwhile, hundreds of tourists from Saga Ruby have plans to visit HCMC, My Tho and Tan Thach Commune in Ben Tre Province where they tour a coconut candy making village and honey bee farms.

According to Saigontourist Travel Service Company, these two ships will leave HCMC on Wednesday.

Saigontourist is expected to welcome around 140,000 tourists and crew members of foreign cruise ships such as Costa Classica, SuperStar Aquarius, Columbus, Spirit of Adventure and Europa in the first four months of this year.

SGT

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