Foreign tourists walk on the The Huc Bridge across Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake in Hanoi. Photo by Shutterstock/anhuy
This means though 2018 was a successful year for the capital city’s tourism sector with a record high of 5.74 million foreign visitors, up 16 percent from a year earlier, it was unable to cash in.
A survey by its tourism department found foreign visitors spending $91.5-113.5 a day, well below the amounts in Dubai ($537), Paris ($301) and Singapore ($286).
In Thailand’s Phuket and Bangkok they spend $239 and $173 while in Seoul it is $181.
Domestic visitors in Hanoi spend $60.6-76.
On average, foreigners stay 3.67 days in Hanoi, a third of the time they spend in Thailand.
Nguyen Gia Phuong, director of Hanoi’s Investment, Trade, and Tourism Promotion Centre, said Hanoi lacks food and shopping outlets and signature tourism products, and so it is difficult for foreigners to spend more.
Foreign tourists enjoy beer and food at the intersection of Hanoi's Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen streets. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Vu The Binh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, told VnExpress the main reason for the low spending is that Vietnam has yet to really establish itself as an ideal destination for shopping or nightlife while other regional peers like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia have done an outstanding job in this regard.
John Lindquist, a member of VisitBritain, the British tourism board, said Vietnam should relax its visa policies, upgrade traffic infrastructure and create more amusement spaces for foreign tourists to visit and spend more money.
Tourism authorities in Hanoi are stepping up efforts to get foreign visitors to stay and spend more.
Hanoi’s profile has shot up after being chosen as the venue for the historic second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last February.
Recently it was named among the top 15 destinations in the world by TripAdvisor travelers.
It is on top of the list of most affordable destinations in the world, with backpackers needing just $18.29 a day in Hanoi, according to the 2019 Backpacker Index formulated by Price of Travel, the world’s largest database of travel costs.