Big rise in the number of Chinese tourists to Vietnam
Mainland visitors shrugged of reports of customs officials shaking down travellers for tips and country also gained by curbs on Chinese tour groups to South Korea
The number of Chinese tourists to Vietnam rose more than 60 per cent in the first quarter despite reports about mainlanders getting beaten up for refusing to tip Vietnamese customs officials.
The total number of tourists visiting Vietnam from around the world rose 30.6 per cent in the first three months of the year compared with the same period in 2016, making it fastest growing travel destination in Southeast Asia, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association.
The organisation said that growth was in large part due to arrivals from China, which were up 63.5 per cent.
There have been several reports of Chinese tourists attacked by officials in Vietnam in recent years.
A man from Guangdong province travelling to Vietnam with his mother and fiancée was badly beaten by seven or eight Vietnamese officials in February after he refused to tip the officials, according to Chinese media reports.
The man sustained fractures to three ribs in the attack, prompting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to condemn the violence and demand a thorough investigation by the Vietnamese authorities.
Some 2.7 million mainland travellers went to Vietnam last year, up 51.4 per cent on 2015, the Global Times reported.
In the coastal city of Nha Trang, 45 per cent of the 1.1 million international visitors last year were from mainland China.
The travel website lvmama.com said the number of mainland tourists using its service to book holidays in Vietnam last year was almost double the figure for 2015.
“The booming market in Vietnam is because of the short flights, low costs and growing number of flight choices,” a spokesman for the agency said.
He said the rise in Chinese visitors to Vietnam was also probably due to the suspension of Chinese tour groups to South Korea amid Beijing’s protests over the deployment of a missile defence system.
“Thus people have turned to Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam for short-haul outbound travel,” he said.
There were 9.2 per cent fewer Chinese travellers to South Korea in the first quarter, the association said.
Chinese arrivals in Thailand were also down 7.2 per cent in the quarter, according to association figures.
The travel organisation said the top five Asia-Pacific destinations for mainland travellers were Hong Kong with 10.8 million arrivals, Macau with 5.3 million, Thailand at 2.4 million, Japan with 1.6 million and South Korea with 1.5 million.