Tourists visit a scenic spot in Japan (Source: VNA)
Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism was a major contributor to the Japanese economy. From 2013 to 2019, the number of foreign tourists to China continued to set new records, reaching a record high in 2019, reaching 31.88 million. However, affected by the epidemic, this number has plummeted, falling to nearly 4.12 million in 2020, compared with 246,000 last year. Mainly due to border closures.
The Northeast Asian country reopened its borders to international tourists in mid-June 2022 after more than two years of closure, but certain restrictions remain in place.
On October 11, the entry and exit control measures for foreigners were completely cancelled, and the visa-free policy for short-term tourists was re-implemented. In addition, the depreciation of the yen against the US dollar and the Vietnamese dong has also helped make Japan more attractive to foreign tourists.
Estimates from the Japan National Tourism Organization show that Japan received 498,600 international tourists in October, more than double that of the previous month and 22.5 times that of the same period last year. Among them, the number of Vietnamese tourists reached 30,800, a year-on-year increase of 30 times.
In the first 10 months of 2022, the number of international tourists in Japan will exceed 1.5 million, a year-on-year increase of 616.7%. Among them, 222,400 tourists from Vietnam, an increase of 809.9%, ranking Vietnam’s second largest source of foreign tourists.
Vietnamese entrepreneur Le Thi Lua, who has lived in Japan for 24 years, said in an interview with Vietnam News Agency that Japanese people like Vietnamese food very much. The Japanese economy has been recovering from the pandemic, and the government has fully reopened to foreign tourists since October, creating numerous opportunities for the catering and hotel industries.
With this in mind, she decided to open an 80-seat restaurant called Vietnam Sky in the Arakawa district of central Tokyo. The newly opened restaurant has attracted many customers, including Japanese and Vietnamese, she said.
In recent months, Yo Group, which offers low-cost Japan tours to Vietnamese tourists, has also made preparations for visitors from the Southeast Asian country, including buying some new buses.
Meanwhile, although Vietnam has fully reopened to foreign tourists since March 15 and has lifted the COVID-19 testing requirement for air passengers since May 15, many airlines, especially the national carrier Vietnam Aviation, which has increased the number of passengers, but the number of Japanese tourists to Vietnam is still not much on flights between the two countries.
In October, Vietnam received more than 484,300 international tourists, an increase of 112%, of which 23,800 were Japanese tourists, ranking fifth among the source countries of foreign tourists in Vietnam. According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, the number of foreign tourists in the first 10 months was about 2.14 million, of which just over 77,200 were from Japan.
Masahiko Inada, head of the Outbound Tourism Promotion Department of the Japan Association of Travel Agencies (JATA), said that Japanese people like to travel to Vietnam, but they still have some concerns about the safety of the epidemic when traveling abroad.
However, he believes that the number of Japanese traveling abroad will gradually pick up.
Tran Thuy, director of Vivu Journeys Vietnam at TMG, echoed this view, saying that the Japanese in general are cautious tourists, paying attention to all safety factors.
To attract Japanese tourists to Vietnam, the Tokyo metropolitan government has designed suitable packages for them while expanding the hotel system, she said. She added that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been working almost continuously with many investment activities over the past two years, but many other companies have chosen Vietnam to “hibernate” amid the suspension of international tourism.Vietnam National Aviation Administration