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Saigon Aims to Attract 1.5m Chinese Tourists Annually by 2020

The government has set a goal of hosting 1.5 million Chinese tourists by 2020, a three-fold increase.

On Tuesday, La Quoc Khanh, deputy director of the municipal tourism department, discussed the plans to triple the current figure of 540,000 Chinese tourists visiting the city over the next three years. The announcement coincides with recent research conducted by the Vietnam National Administration for Tourism (VNAT) aimed at establishing promotions geared towards the high-end segment of the market as well as effect attendance of international fairs and expos for presenting tourism products.

Chinese tourists in Saigon are certainly not a rare sight and last year they constituted the largest group visiting the city, followed by South Koreans. In 2017, 2.9 million arrived across the nation, an increase of 47% over the previous year and enough to make them the number one nationality entering the country. In 2015, Chinese overtook Russians as the largest group of tourists coming to Nha Trang. Similar coastal cities like Da Nang are also popular destinations.

In addition to an increased presence at tourism fairs in China, Vietnam seeks to bolster the number of tourists from the nation by publishing websites and magazines in Chinese, employing more Chinese-speaking guides and continue to hold attractions such as art performances on Nguyen Hue Boulevard and the Ao Dai Festival and river tours, as well as building up traditional medicine areas and jewelry stores. Cities with direct flights to Saigon will be targeted in particular.

Not everyone is pleased with the increased efforts, however, as Chinese tourists have developed a negative reputation in many countries, particularly Vietnam. Recent outrage has been sparked by high-profile incidents including a Chinese national delaying a flight by throwing coins into a plane engine for good luck; starting a brawl after refusing to pay a restaurant bill; entering the country with an intent to distribute tourist maps that violate the country’s sovereignty; and most pervasively, operating “zero-dollar tours” that funnel all spent dollars back to China.

Khan stressed that “the Ho Chi Minh City tourism department will coordinate with other agencies to tighten control over travel firms to prevent downsides such as these ‘zero-dollar’ tours.”

[Photo via Thanh Nien]

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