Over the last decade, digitalization has transformed the travel industry globally, resulting in the growing importance of the online travel market within this industry. Consumers across the globe can organize their trips to preferred destinations either through an online travel agency (OTA) or from the website of a travel company instead of going to their physical office. With a connected population and fast-growing tourism market, Vietnam had witnessed significant growth in the online travel sector until the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to this growth track. Although it is unlikely for the tourism sector to return to pre-pandemic levels this year, the revenue of the online travel and tourism segment in the country was forecast to recover in 2021.

Fast-growing online travel market in Vietnam

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism sector had recorded yearly increases in the share of direct GDP contribution in Vietnam . Meanwhile, approximately half of the sales in the travel and tourism segment came from online channels, and the share of online sales was forecasted to surpass offline sales in the next few years. Within Vietnam’s expanding e-commerce sector, tour and hotel booking, and flight and train tickets were some of the most popular online shopping categories among consumers. As surveyed in 2020, around 60 percent of Vietnamese respondents reported having used an online travel agency. While internationally renowned OTA platforms, namely Booking.com, Agoda, and Traveloka dominate the market as the most used agencies, Vietnamese brands such as mytour.vn and Vntrip.com recently have gained their spots among the leading OTAs based on awareness among online booking users .  

COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts on the Vietnamese tourism sector

Since early 2020, Vietnam has been closed to international visitors, resulting in far-reaching consequences for its tourism sector. In 2020, the number of international tourist arrivals in the country decreased by almost 80 percent, leading to the tourism industry’s reliance on domestic tourism. Although inbound tourism accounted for a larger share of the total tourism receipts in Vietnam, the contribution of domestic tourism has been increasing fast in recent years.
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel, mobility, and accommodation were responsible for the highest e-commerce expenditure among internet users in Vietnam in 2020. As the country has been able to keep a low infection rate among its population, the intention to purchase big-ticket items , including domestic holidays, has increased considerably in 2021 compared to the first outbreak period in 2020. This signals a recovery for the domestic tourism sector and consequently the online travel market.


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