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Almost 2m Foreign Tourists Visit Vietnam in January, a Record Number

Vietnam's tourism industry saw unprecedented growth in international arrivals last month, though the timing of this success — right in the middle of a coronavirus outbreak — is unfortunate.

According to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, the country welcomed 1.99 million international visitors in January, the highest on record, Dan Tri reports. Of the total number, Asia continued to be the largest market (77.4%), with the highest growth as well (39.9% year-on-year), followed by the Americas (19%) and Europe (11.5%).

Within the continent of Asia, the number of tourists from China to Vietnam during the month increased by 72.6% from January 2019; this figure is 40.1% for Thai tourists, 20.1% for South Korean tourists and 11.4% for Japanese tourists.

This outstanding increase in the number of visitors is in part due to the traditional Tết holiday and its celebration around the country. In Saigon, for example, Nguyen Hue Flower Street had over one million visitors during its seven-day run from January 22 to 28. The Tet Book Street Festival, one of the attractions on the flower street, saw a considerable boost in both total revenue and visitor numbers.

On the other hand, the prospects for foreign visitors in the near future seem rather dim, with the coronavirus outbreak and its progression within mainland China and neighboring countries. The Vietnamese government has temporarily stopped issuing visas to Chinese tourists while flights to and from mainland China are also suspended.

Despite the possible economic losses, fighting the virus and maintaining public health remain priorities for local administrations. As Vietnam is exposed to high infection risks, being a popular destination for Chinese tourists, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stressed that "the government accepts economic losses to protect the lives and health of people,” in a meeting last Tuesday.