Vietnam Continues To Attract Russian Visitors

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russian touristSince 2008, Russian tourists have become increasingly common in Vietnam. Russia is predicted to become a more popular market for Vietnamese tourism. It is among the top ten countries in terms of the growth of tourist numbers to Vietnam, having increased remarkably in recent years. In addition, Vietnam has offered visa exemptions to Russians since January 2009, which has contributed to attracting a huge amount of tourists to Vietnam. Russians who have ordinary passport will enjoy 15 days visa exemptions in Vietnam.

According to assessment of travel agents in Ho Chi Minh City, most Russian tourists choose tours from Ho Chi Minh to Phan Thiet (Binh Thuan) for three to four days and from Ho Chi Minh to the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta for one to two days. Another choice is a tour from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay over one to two days. They are less keen on visiting larger numbers of sites unlike tourists from other countries. Generally, Russian visitors are friendly and easy-going. Most of them are young people. They are more interested in tourist sites that they can enjoy entertainment services rather than discovering cultural and historical sites. They like spending money on tourist services and purchasing souvenir products. The favorite tour of middle-aged people is Vietnam because they want to recall their memories of those days when they worked in Vietnam and to see the changes of Vietnam now.

Ho Chi Minh City has acted as an entry-point for Russian visitors to Binh Thuan and surrounding provinces. The number of tourists to Ho Chi Minh City has grown in 2010 compared to 2009, which reached the highest growth rate of 200 percent and lowest growth rate of 30 percent per month. By the middle of this year, Russia will rank in the top 15 countries in terms of the number of tourists to Ho Chi Minh City. The peak season for Russian tourists is from November to March. Elena Strunkina, general director of Lanta-An Travel Company which specializes in receiving Russian tourists to Ho Chi Minh City said that the most popular tourist sites for Russian tourists are Phan Thiet and Nha Trang. Some tourists choose shorter excursions such as Da Lat but most of them often choose resorts along beaches.

Lam Quang Hien, the director of Binh Thuan's Culture, Sport and Tourism Department, said that Russia has the biggest number of tourists to Binh Thuan compared to other countries. In September 2010 alone, 62,600 tourists visited Binh Thuan accounting one third of the province's total. Russian tourists to Vietnam are predicted to reach the highest number by the end of the year as they escape the harsh Russian winter. Many travel agents in Novosibirsk, the third largest city of Russia have carried out fact-finding visits to resorts and hotels in Binh Thuan to promote these kinds of facilities to Russians. According to their assessment, attractions and services in Binh Thuan suit Russian tourists, therefore, it is necessary to promote Binh Thuan tourism so that it will become the most attractive place for Russian tourists.

In addition, Vietnam tourism has carried out promotion activities in Russia such as a road show in Moscow and St. Peterburg in 2009. Vietnamese companies have signed agreements with Russian partners who have good knowledge about Vietnam and good Vietnamese to invest in tourism services. In addition, they have participated in tourism fairs in many locations throughout Russia. In the near future, Vladivostok Air will begin offering flights once per fortnight from Khabarovsk and Vladivostok to Cam Ranh Airport in Khanh Hoa Province from December 2010 to March 2011, which will boost the two countries' tourism development.

It is anticipated that Russia will continue to be an important market for Vietnamese tourism in the near future. Therefore, domestic travel agents have set a target of receiving 100,000 visitors by the end of 2010.