Thais flock to Vietnam as new attractions add lustre

A tourist enjoys the hydrangea-filled scenery in Dalat, Vietnam.

Booming tourism in Vietnam has seen the number of Thai visitors accelerate to reach record growth, resulting in higher frequency of flights by Thai airlines, especially to top destinations like Da Nang and Dalat.

New attractions in these two cities and heavy tourism promotions have drawn 174,777 Thai tourists in the first four months, up 46% year-on-year, the highest gain among all international arrivals.

Ranon Viputsiri, head of commercial operations at Thai Vietjet Air, a budget airline, said the number of Thai tourists has surged since mid-April, during the long-holiday period in Thailand. Passengers on the airline increased by 30% in the period.

Mr Ranon said most of Thai Vietjet's passengers are Thais who hold round-trip tickets to go see landmarks such as Bana Hills and the Golden Bridge in Da Nang, or to visit Dalat, a mid-sized city scattered with French colonial villas.

He said several infrastructure projects in Vietnam are under way and will be a plus for the country's tourism.

Thai Vietjet has noticed tourism growth in Vietnam, and the airline has added more flights to Da Nang and Dalat to meet passenger demand.

Since April this year, the Bangkok-Da Nang route has increased from two to three flights daily, while Bangkok-Dalat will be granted daily service, up from five flights a week.

Bangkok Airways has also ramped up service to Vietnam by increasing the frequency of the Bangkok-Da Nang route to 14 flights a week and opening a direct route from Bangkok to Cam Ranh with four flights a week in the first quarter this year.

According to statistics from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, since 2010 the number of international tourists to Vietnam has tripled from 5 million to more than 15 million in 2018.

Foreign arrivals in Vietnam in the January-April period are estimated at 5.9 million, up 7.6% year-on-year, putting Vietnam on track to meet the projected 18 million foreigners this year.

Thais had the highest growth in arrivals to Vietnam over the first four months, followed by Indonesia (29%), Taiwan (25%), the Philippines (24.4%), South Korea (23.2%) and Malaysia (15.7%).

Thai tourism operators have attributed the growth in Vietnam's tourism industry to the development of new attractions and strong marketing campaigns.

The firming baht earlier this year also encouraged visits to other countries, including Vietnam.