Published on : Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Vietnam is preparing for the Tet holiday, as millions of migrant labourers head home from the cities to spend a week of family, food and relaxation. But among the communist country’s rising middle class, a lot of these people will be flying overseas in the Year of the Dog.
Outbound tourism from Vietnam has been growing at an annual rate of 10-15 per cent in the last few years. In China, Vietnam’s neighbour, rising disposable incomes are making tourists head to Europe, south-east Asia and other foreign destinations in record numbers.
Vietnamese travellers took 7.5 million foreign trips last year, with China the top destination followed by Cambodia and Thailand. According to the Vietnam Tourism Association, Vietnamese tourists spent $8bn in 2016, which is more than double the $3.5bn that they spent in 2012. Grandviet Tour, a tourism operator in Hanoi, said that it had organized around 700-800 tours for Tet this year, against 500-600 five years ago. Most of this year’s trips are group tours, and more travellers are heading beyond south-east Asia to Europe, the US, Japan and South Korea.
“People don’t want to save money in their pockets,” said Hoang The Hau, the company’s managing director. “They want to change their lives.” According to Nielsen, the market research group, travel ranks among affluent Vietnamese people’s top three hobbies, surpassing even dining out and buying new clothes. Domestic travel in Vietnam is also expanding, thanks to the rise of budget carriers such as VietJet, which since its founding in 2011 has won a share of more than 40 per cent of the domestic market.