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Russia-Ukraine conflict may affect Vietnamese travel businesses
Khanh Phi 21:48, 2022/03/03
Many local businesses planned to expand their exploitation of the Russian market as tourist bookings surged after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vietnamese tour operators specializing in Russia and Eastern European countries believed the devaluation of the Russian ruble will affect the inbound market in the coming time.

 A Russian tourist is trying Tet cake wrapping in Nha Trang's resort on Lunar New Year’s Day 2022. Photo: Selectum Noa Resort Cam Ranh

Khanh Hoa is one of the localities to welcome international visitors with “vaccine passports” under a pilot reopening to tourism since late last year. So far, Russian tourists have made up the majority of arrivals to the south-central coastal province.

From the beginning of November 2021 to February 20, 2022, the locality received 48 flights with more than 10,000 international tourists from Russia, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, accounting for about 90% of the total number of international tourists holding vaccine passports to Vietnam.

Nguyen Thi Le Thanh, Director of the Khanh Hoa Tourism Department said before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chinese accounted for more than 60% of the international arrivals, tourists from Russia and Eastern European countries represented more than 20% while those from South Korea made up 10%.

She added, in the context that the Chinese and South Korean are unable to travel abroad, the inflow of Russian visitors is expected to warm up the local tourism industry, contributing to restoring the province’s tourism this year. However, in the face of the current situation, the Department will strengthen the promotion of the inbound market through the mass media to expand the source market instead of depending on certain segments of customers.

Besides, Thanh is aware that the domestic tourist market will play a key role in the recovery of Khanh Hoa’s tourism industry in 2022. “This year, the local tourism industry will strengthen promotion activities to attract domestic tourists,” she underlined.

In 2022, Khanh Hoa sets the goal of welcoming more than 1.2 million visitors, up 100% compared to 2021, including 1.16 million domestic and 40,000 international visitors, earning an expected revenue of VND4 trillion ($173.9 million), an increase of 80% compared to 2021.

 Impacts from Russia-Ukraine crisis

Russian tourists are the major guests of Anex Vietnam. Photo: Anex Vietnam

Nguyen Ngoc Luong, Sales Director of the Anex Vietnam Travel and Trading Co., Ltd (Anex Vietnam), the largest company bringing Russian tourists to Vietnam, said the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine has directly affected the company’s plan to lure international travelers in the near future.

According to the plan, from the end of December 2021 to March 2022, the company will arrange two charter flights per week to bring Russian tourists to Nha Trang, each trip with between 320-340 guests.

“Due to the large devaluation of the ruble, many Russian tourists are afraid to spend a large amount of money on a trip to Vietnam, some have even canceled the tour,” Luong said, adding the value of the Russian ruble fell to about 110RUB against the US dollar, a record low. 

The 2019 Vietnam Tourism report showed that Russian tourists were the top spenders in Vietnam, with an average Russian spending of over US$1,830 per trip.

In the same situation, Pegas Misr Vietnam, the second-largest travel business specializing in the Russian market, said that the ruble is falling sharply, so the company would have to reconsider its business plans in the coming time.

The travel company was excited when the government set March 15 as the date to fully resume inbound travel. 

Hoang Thi Phong Thu, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Pegas Misr Vietnam said: “We have recruited and trained personnel, upgraded resort facilities as well as prepared plans following guidelines of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to bring Russian tourists to Vietnam. But the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine has turned the plan upside down."

Another travel business in  Khanh Hoa that also specializes in the Russian market said that there are only two weeks left for Vietnam to fully reopen to international travel, but the unpredictable evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine prevents them from drawing up a long-term plan.   

Luong was hopeful about positive changes after the pandemic as currently, his company is organizing tours for Russian travelers to Vietnam at a loss.

Vietnam - a safe destination for Russian tourists

Vietnam is a safe tourist destination without any restrictions for Russian visitors, according to the Russian authority.

The recommendation of the Federal Agency for Tourism of Russia was made on March 2 in the context that many countries are imposing sanctions and restrictions on Moscow. On the list of safe destinations for Russian tourists are Tunisia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, India and Turkey, the countries that have assured that they want cooperation and have no intention of imposing restrictions on Russian travelers.

Russian authorities advise citizens against traveling to countries that have imposed sanctions and restrictions on Russia because they might run the risk of being unable to return to their home country in a timely and safe manner. 

The tourism agency believes that some destinations, including Latin American countries, are no longer available to Russian travelers due to restrictions on accessing EU and Canadian airspaces. Travelers who booked tours to these destinations are advised to contact their tour operators for an alternative destination.

Vietnam has resumed commercial flights to 20 countries and territories, including Russia.

Russia and China are traditionally the biggest source markets for the south-central coastal province of Khanh Hoa.

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