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In 2020, Vietnam Only Welcomed 21% of Last Year's Tourist Arrivals

Unsurprisingly, it's been a rough year for the international tourism industry.

Tuoi Tre reports that the General Statistics Office recorded just 3.83 million international arrivals in 2020, 14 million fewer than in record-breaking 2019. This represents a 78.8% drop in arrivals year-on-year.

Overall, 96% of this year's foreign arrivals occurred in the first quarter, before inbound international flights were suspended on March 22. This month, just 16,300 foreigners entered Vietnam, a 99% plunge compared to December 2019.

Heavy border restrictions have strictly limited who can come to Vietnam, with only pre-approved foreign experts and managers allowed in, with mandatory two-week quarantine, in addition to repatriating Vietnamese. Thus far, 75,000 Vietnamese nationals have returned to the country from other parts of the world.

Tuoi Tre adds that arrivals from every major tourism market dropped precipitously, while domestic tourism figures also fell by 50%, leading to a US$23 billion drop in tourism revenue for the year.

Airlines, of course, have taken a financial beating due to international flight restrictions. Vietnam Airlines recently announced that its full-year revenue fell by nearly US$20 million compared to 2019, while its losses hit US$521 million. The national flag carrier logged 96,500 flights in 2020, including 180 repatriation flights carrying 52,000 Vietnamese citizens.

All told, Vietnam's domestic airlines served just 66 million passengers this year, a 43.5% drop from 2019, while through November they had operated 36.1% fewer flights than last year.

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