Vietnam was one of the first nation’s to tap the Russian market, when it enjoyed a special relationship with the former USSR in the 1970s and 1980s.

VNAT deputy head, Nguyen Quoc Hung, claimed there are now strong indicators that Russian tour operators will promote the country’s beach destinations on a much larger scale than in the past.

“Russian tour operators will come up with many more promotional programmes to lure tourists from Russia who are staying longer and spending more in Vietnam,” he said.

VNAT and local tourism agencies will attend more trade fairs in Russia and conduct road shows to major cities as well as inviting Russian tour operators and media to join familiarisation trips to Vietnam.

The emphasis will be on high-spend tourists rather than budget tourists who are already visiting the country mainly on cheap charter flights.

Russia figures as a top source market on par with Japan, South Korea, EU nations, Australia and the USA.

They spend around USD2,200 to USD2,500 for up to seven days and can average USD4,000 for longer stays.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism proposed, last July, that visa exemption for Russian travellers should be extended from 15 days to 30 days. It would help to improve length of stay and increase spend.

For January to August this year, 240,566 Russian tourists visited Vietnam, an increase of 27.1% over the same period last year.

In 2013, there were 298,126 Russians visited the country, up 71.1% from 2012.

By Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit - TTR Weekly - September 16, 2014