An Nhien

Despite the introduction of mass vaccination, there’s a long way to go before the Covid-19 pandemic can be brought under control. Here, Heritage speaks with economists, government officials, and business people on how the tourism industry has performed in 2020 and what to expect in 2021.

Dr. Can Van Luc, Senior Advisor to BIDV
In 2020, tourism was one of the industries hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) forecasts a 60-70% drop in global tourist arrivals and revenue. Vietnam’s tourism industry was no exception with a projected decrease of 80% less international arrivals and 50% less domestic arrivals. This caused around 23 billion USD in lost revenues, or a drop of about 70%.

However, the country’s domestic tourism industry is recovering. Compared to other countries, we have been quite lucky. I expect the industry – especially for domestic tourism – to show even stronger recovery once the pandemic is controlled by widespread vaccination. In 2021 the world economy is forecast to grow by about 4-5%, while Vietnam should enjoy more robust recovery with growth likely to reach from 6.5 to 7%. Vietnam’s international tourism industry should recover by 50-60% and its domestic tourism industry by about 80-90%, thus permitting revenues of up to 70% of the 2019 figures (over VND 510,000 billion).

Dr. Can Van Luc, Senior Advisor to BIDV

Tran Trung Hieu, Deputy Director of Hanoi Tourism Department
In 2020, Vietnam’s tourism industry quickly restructured markets, products and businesses. It focused on the domestic market as the core business, maintaining growth thanks to domestic stimulus programs. By leveraging partnerships and synergy, more seasoned market players managed to flexibly adapt their businesses and ensure proper epidemic-prevention measures. Many innovative and unique new products were introduced.

Since the pandemic is expected to remain unpredictable, to maintain steady growth, Vietnam’s tourism industry must be prepared to deal with fluctuations. Basically, demand for domestic tourism will continue to recover; New Year’s Spring Festival tourism will mark a good start to the year; and summer-autumn arrivals will soar. Hopefully, Vietnam can soon start to welcome inbound customers when international flights resume.

Tran Trung Hieu, Deputy Director of Hanoi Tourism Department

Leanne Reddie, Commercial Sales & Marketing Director, Azerai Resorts

Vietnam has been one of the best performers in terms of controlling the pandemic. In addition, thanks to stimulus programs, Vietnam’s domestic tourism industry has shown many positive signs. Hotels and resorts have turned to the domestic market to create a variety of unprecedented offerings. The domestic market has helped revive the country’s tourism industry even though international tourism is frozen.

Given the fact that vaccines are now available, we can be optimistic that international tourism will gradually recover. However, it will take a while for the industry to return to its pre-Covid growth. Everything now depends on the resumption of unconstrained international flights to and from Vietnam under the new travel conditions.

Leanne Reddie, Commercial Sales & Marketing Director, Azerai Resorts

Lam Thi Thuy Ha, Co-founder of Triip-me and Forbes under 30
Since the recovery of global tourism will take at least two to three years, it is essential to focus on developing domestic tourism products to serve the domestic market. Qualified and highly-experienced guides, who tended to go on outbound trips, have now turned to the domestic market. Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE), as well as big companies’ team-building trips, have also turned domestic. Luxury travel products once exclusively offered to “international visitors” are now more accessible to Vietnamese tourists. In many hard times and challenges, opportunities always appear.

There will be a boom in post-Covid tourism in the future, especially tourism for mental health. Covid has caused a great deal of depression and people need products and experiences to help them regain their balance. Players in the industry must focus on hygiene, health and safety, and the quality of experiences rather than the number of customers.

Kirill Shumeykin, An Group 
In 2020, during the stormy global Covid-19 pandemic, we have been fortunate to live in Vietnam and to travel all over the country. There have been many interesting promotions to support domestic tourism. Tourists have had the opportunity to buy cheap airline tickets and enjoy stays in highly discounted resorts. Foreigners living in Vietnam are currently excited to explore this country. We see this at our cafes in Dalat, Danang, and Nha Trang.


In 2021, Vietnam will surely be the leader in providing the best travel experiences for Vietnamese and international visitors. Next year will also bring many more opportunities for visitors to have unique domestic tourism experiences.

Kirill Shumeykin, Managing partner at an groupenglish

Nguyen Quang Trung, Head of Corporate Planning and Development, Vietnam Airlines
Recently, the International Conference on Tourism Recovery jointly hosted by the World Tourism Board (WTTC) and the Government of Spain in La Palma issued a joint statement on measures to promote the recovery of tourism activities, including pre-departure testing protocols and the approval of test results at destinations; the establishment of health control measures; general agreement on the creation of travel corridors; and the transformation of business models to suit the new reality. This shows that the world is anxious for the prompt resumption of tourism.

While vaccines have been licensed in many countries, vaccination is unlikely to be rolled out quickly around the globe. In the early post-Covid period, the tourism industry will mainly depend on the domestic market.


For the aviation industry, the demand for domestic travel is expected to recover rapidly thanks to the effective control of the pandemic and the introduction of tourism stimulus programs. It is forecast that domestic flights in 2021 could carry 38.4 million passengers, an increase of 3% compared to 2019.

Once the pandemic is under control, international routes will resume. Flights between Vietnam and other Asian countries are expected to reopen first, while long-haul routes to Europe, the US, and Australia will recover later. The international aviation market is predicted to return to 2019 levels no earlier than late 2023.