Russian tourists come back to Viet Nam in droves
Update: Sep 15, 2016
Russian visitor arrivals to Viet Nam have rebounded strongly after a period of decline sparked by the strong depreciation of the Russian rouble currency against the US dollar.

Nearly 266,000 Russians visited Viet Nam in the first eight months of the year, up a staggering 125% compared to the same period last year, according to the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).

The figure is expected to continue growing in the coming months when the Russian winter holiday season begins, Nguyen Quoc Hung, deputy general director of VNAT, said at a dialogue on tourism development and cooperation between Viet Nam and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) countries held in HCM City last week.

Hung said the free trade agreement (FTA) between Viet Nam and the EAEU, which comprises Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, is scheduled to take effect in October, bringing great opportunities for local tourism.

However, to attract tourists from Russia and other EAEU members, domestic tour operators should propose the Government simplify visa procedures for EAEU visitors, increase the visa-free stay, and adopt a foreign exchange regime based on policies of the Eurasian Customs Union (EACU).

Ta Bich Ha, director of the Russian National Tourist Office in Southeast Asia, credited the big return of Russian travelers to promotion activities of tourism authorities and firms since last year, including efforts from the Ha Noi Tourism Department.

In March, Ha Noi’s tourism sector joined VNAT and the Viet Nam Tourism Association (VITA) in promoting Viet Nam in Russia and teamed up with localities and firms to create specific tourism products to lure visitors from this market.

Hoang Huu Loc, chairman of Saigontourist Travel Service Co., said tourism promotion should be expanded to other former Soviet Union states as they also use the Russian language. Viet Nam has adequate infrastructure and manpower to serve these markets as well, he said.

Although the potential is huge, these countries are totally new to Viet Nam due to a lack of information. Loc urged VNAT to help local travel firms learn more about these markets.

In the opposite direction, Ha said the number of Vietnamese traveling to Russia has significantly soared. The weakening of the Russian rouble has made Russians reluctant to travel abroad but would encourage more Vietnamese to visit the country.

She told the Daily that the Russian Administration of Tourism (Rostourism) has proposed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs apply a visa waiver to groups of travelers on a bilateral basis with Viet Nam.

At the dialogue, the Viet Nam-Russia Tourism Club and the Viet Nam-Russia Tourism Advisory Board were launched. The club has 22 members including international tour operators, hotels and tourism service providers. Meanwhile, the advisory board will be responsible for supporting the club’s activities.

Saigon Times