Vietnam and South Korea strengthen tourism ties for mutual growth, with positive signs of recovery and enhanced cooperation.
In a significant development, the Vietnam National Authority of Tourism (VNAT) and the Busan Tourism Organization in South Korea have joined forces to enhance cooperation and promote tourist exchange. The meeting between Mr. Nguyen Trung Khanh, Chairman of VNAT, and Mr. Lee Jong Sil, President/CEO of Busan Tourism Organization, held in Hanoi, signifies the commitment to furthering collaboration in the realm of tourism.
Building Stronger Ties Between Vietnam and South Korea
Chairman Nguyen Trung Khanh emphasized the robust and warm relationship between Vietnam and South Korea, extending to all facets of collaboration, including the pivotal tourism sector. This partnership aims to reinforce these bonds and facilitate greater interaction between the two nations.
Positive Signs of Recovery in Vietnam’s Tourism
Chairman Nguyen Trung Khanh provided an encouraging update on Vietnam’s tourism landscape. The country is experiencing a robust recovery, both domestically and internationally. Notably, in the first eight months of 2023, Vietnam welcomed international tourists at an impressive rate, reaching 98% of the 2023 target. Korean visitors to Vietnam have also rebounded strongly, recovering to 81% of pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Simultaneously, Vietnamese tourists are increasingly exploring the attractions of South Korea.
Acknowledging the Role of Busan’s Promotion Office
Chairman Nguyen Trung Khanh commended the pivotal role played by the Promotion Office of the Busan Tourism Organization in Vietnam. The office has conducted thorough research into the preferences and interests of Vietnamese travelers, leading to the creation of appealing tour packages that entice Vietnamese tourists to explore Korea.
A Foundation for Future Cooperation
In December 2022, the national tourism agencies of Vietnam and Korea formalized their partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding covering the 2023-2024 period. This agreement sets the stage for comprehensive collaboration to foster tourism development in both countries, including key tourism cities. Chairman Nguyen Trung Khanh, however, noted the limitations in Korea’s visa issuance policy for Vietnamese tourists, which have constrained the volume of tourist exchange between the two nations and, particularly, Busan.
Vietnam’s tourism sector has been diligently engaging with the Korean market in recent years. Activities have included participation in and organization of promotional events like the Seoul International Travel Fair (SITF, formerly KOTFA) and the Hana Tour Fair. Additionally, Vietnam has supported Korea’s presence at international travel expos, such as ITE HCMC in Ho Chi Minh City and the Vietnam International Travel Mart (VITM) in Hanoi. Key figures from VNAT have also actively participated in the World Tourism Industry Conference during SITF events in Korea.
Facilitating Travel with Policy Changes
The Vietnamese Government’s proactive approach has resulted in favorable conditions for international tourists, including Koreans. From August 15, 2023, Korean tourists can benefit from a visa exemption policy for stays of up to 45 days in Vietnam. Furthermore, there has been an increase in the frequency of flights connecting Vietnam and Korea, enhancing accessibility. Several major Korean cities now offer direct or charter flights to multiple Vietnamese destinations.
A Cultural Bridge
Mr. Lee Chang Kun has been serving as Vietnam’s Tourism Ambassador in Korea since 2018, playing a pivotal role in promoting Vietnam’s tourism. In 2019, he established the Vietnam Tourism Promoting Office in Korea, further strengthening cultural ties and promoting travel between the two nations.
Enhancing Cooperation with Busan
Chairman Nguyen Trung Khanh proposed that Busan and Vietnam exchange experiences in destination management, develop products catering to sea, island, cultural, and culinary tourism, intensify destination promotion efforts, and involve local communities in tourism development. Both parties have committed to increased information sharing and mutual participation in cultural, tourism, and cinematic events and activities in Vietnam and Busan. They aim to boost direct flights connecting Vietnamese destinations with Busan and explore the potential of cruise tourism linking Vietnam’s seaports with Busan.
Mr. Lee Jong Sil, President/CEO of Busan Tourism Organization, extended congratulations on the recent achievements in Vietnamese tourism. He praised Vietnam as a beautiful country with friendly and talented people.
Discussing Busan’s tourism landscape, Mr. Lee Jong Sil highlighted the city’s appeal as South Korea’s largest port city, known for its diverse sea and island tourism, rich culture, vibrant cinema, and delectable culinary offerings. Busan hosts the prestigious Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) annually, a standout event in Asia’s cultural calendar. Some of Busan’s notable attractions include Gamcheon Cultural Village, Haeundae Beach, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (a historical Korean temple), Busan Tower, and the Busan Cinema Center. In the first seven months of 2023, Busan welcomed 44,024 Vietnamese visitors, ranking fourth among international tourist markets.
A Shared Vision for the Future
President/CEO Lee Jong Sil emphasized the critical importance of cooperation to bolster the flow of tourists between Vietnam and Busan. By increasing flight connectivity between Vietnam and Korea, especially to major cities like Busan, both nations aim to facilitate cultural exchanges and promote the beauty of their respective countries.
Furthermore, discussions about visa issuance for Vietnamese tourists are on the agenda, as Mr. Lee Jong Sil intends to propose potential policy changes to Korean authorities to ease visa requirements for Vietnamese tourists in the near future.
The meeting between VNAT and Busan Tourism Organization signifies a promising future for tourism cooperation, fostering mutual growth and cultural exchange between Vietnam and South Korea.
Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.