Tourism sector transformed post-COVID

Tourism sector transformed post-COVID

Two years since Vietnam lifted the COVID-19 lockdown and eighteen months since its tourism reopening, RMIT academics reflected on the biggest achievements and changes in the tourism sector.

Dr Jackie Ong, Senior Program Manager, Tourism and Hospitality Management, RMIT University Vietnam:

The tourism sector in Vietnam has seen significant growth, driven largely by domestic tourism. In fact, the recovery of domestic tourism led to Vietnam becoming the world’s fastest-recovering domestic aviation sector and the world’s fifth fastest-growing aviation market, expected to reach 150 million air transport passengers by 2035.

After countries reopened their borders, Vietnam has gained in popularity as a global travel destination. This is evident in the country’s win of 16 top award categories in the 2022 World Travel Awards and being recognised as Asia’s Leading Destination (for the fifth time) and Asia’s Leading Nature Destination (for the second time) in the 2023 World Travel Awards.

Tourists trekking in Central Highlands of Vietnam Community-based tourism has thrived in recent years.

To support the recovery of the tourism sector, tourism products are being diversified. Along with conventional types of nature and culture tourism, we see the promotion of river tourism, cuisine or gastronomy tourism, rural tourism, and wellness and spiritual tourism.

Notably, the green/sustainable tourism trend has led to a higher demand for rural nature tourism, while community-based tourism has resulted in an increase in homestays, huts and local dining experiences.

Overall, we have witnessed strong growth in the accommodation sector with an expansion of international hotel brands and chains. Many accommodation service establishments have also upgraded their properties and services.

There has definitely been more focus on promoting and implementing sustainable tourism measures, such as bicycles for rent and walking streets in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang, and tourist entrance fees in the ancient town of Hoi An. Facilities in public places, such as toilet facilities and pavements, have also received upgrades.

Another commendable development is the move toward digitisation and use of technology to promote tourism by the government authority and travel industry. We see QR codes available in many popular travel destinations, and instant translation apps being adopted by tourism service providers.

On the aviation front, there have been efforts to upgrade within airliners and the aviation industry as a whole. For example, national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines has upgraded its products and services and maintained its 4-star airline certification. There has also been improvement in crowd management at airports, with Noi Bai International Airport even recognised by among the world's top airports for its efficient queueing management.

Dr Jackie Ong (left) and Dr Nuno F. Ribeiro (right). Dr Jackie Ong (left) and Dr Nuno F. Ribeiro (right).

Dr Nuno F. Ribeiro, Associate Senior Program Manager and Research Cluster Lead, Tourism and Hospitality Management, RMIT University Vietnam:

Based on research by our RMIT Tourism and Hospitality Management team on tourism activities in Southeast Asia (which is currently the most dynamic market in the post-COVID travel landscape), I can say that travel behaviour has undergone significant changes in recent years.

Most remarkably, personalised experiences have become increasingly popular among travellers due to:

  • Changing preferences: Travellers today seek unique and tailored experiences that align with their individual interests and preferences. They value experiences that go beyond the traditional tourist attractions.
  • Technological advancements: The widespread use of technology has empowered travellers to personalise their journeys. Online platforms and travel apps provide access to a wide range of options, allowing travellers to customise their itineraries, accommodations, and activities.
  • Demand for authenticity: Travelers are now more interested in immersing themselves in local cultures and communities. They want to connect with authentic experiences, local traditions, and interact with locals. Personalised experiences enable them to do so.

For the companies’ part, they must increase their use of technologies to create personalised experiences for several reasons:

  • Meeting customer expectations: In today's competitive travel industry, companies need to meet the growing demand for personalised experiences. By leveraging technology, companies can offer tailored recommendations, customised itineraries, and personalised services that cater to individual preferences.
  • Enhancing customer satisfaction: Personalised experiences enhance customer satisfaction by providing unique and memorable travel experiences. When companies utilise technologies to understand customer preferences and deliver personalised services, they can create a more satisfying and enjoyable travel experience.
  • Building customer loyalty: By offering personalised experiences, companies can build stronger relationships with customers. When travellers receive tailored recommendations and exceptional service, they are more likely to become loyal customers and advocates for the brand.

As the travel landscape continues to evolve in the post-COVID world, companies that embrace technology and prioritise personalised experiences will be well-positioned to thrive in the dynamic market of Southeast Asia and beyond.

Story: Ngoc Hoang

  • Tourism & Hospitality

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