Vietnam Lags Regional Competitors in Tourist Services and Air Transport Infastructure

Vietnam’s growing regional market share appears to reflect, in part, recent improvements to various dimensions of its tourism competitiveness. The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Tourism Competitiveness Index scores and ranks countries according to a variety of physical and institutional factors relevant to tourism. 

In terms of its overall score on this index in 2017, Vietnam was ranked 67th globally, stood on par with the average of the rest of its regional competitors, but was not the top regional performer (i.e. on the regional “frontier”) in any single dimension of competitiveness. 

However, since 2015 (the prior iteration of the index), Vietnam has achieved the largest overall improvement in competitiveness among its regional peers, with its largest strides coming in the areas of ICT readiness, international openness, safety and security, and ground and port infrastructure.

Despite these gains, important weaknesses in relative competitiveness remain. Vietnam still lags the rest of the region considerably with regards to its tourist service and air transport infrastructure, as well as its prioritization of the tourism sector. 

The latter primarily reflects a relatively low allocation of government spending to the tourism sector (1.4 percent of total government expenditure in 2017, 114th among global comparators), despite its declared strategic importance, as well as the limited coverage and comprehensiveness of Vietnam’s tourism sector statistics (116th globally). 

On a global basis, it is also important to note Vietnam’s weakness in the area of environmental sustainability (129th globally) — although it ranks on par with its regional comparators, the region as a whole performs very poorly in this dimension. 

Finally, in the area of international openness, Vietnam’s visa regime, which has been liberalized somewhat in recent years, still lags compared to the relatively more open visa policies of key regional competitors.

The vast majority of international visitors to Vietnam originate from Northeast Asia, especially China, South Korea and Japan. Collectively, these three countries accounted for 60 percent of Vietnam’s international arrivals in 2018. 

A significant share of visitors (11 percent) also come from thenearby Southeast Asian nations.  Other top visitor source markets are the United States (4.4 percent) and Russia (3.9 percent), reflecting their strong historical Cold War era links to Vietnam.

These key visitor source markets have not changed significantly in recent years, but there has been a marked increase in the share of Chinese and Korean visitors—relatively lower-yielding visitor segments. 

Information in this article was taken from report Taking Stock released by World Bank recently. 

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