The first direct link between the two countries and cities aims to cater to increasing travel demands, said William Boulter, chief commercial officer of Indigo, the largest airline in India which accounts for nearly 50 percent of domestic market share.
Vietnam is one of the world’s emerging tourist destinations. As such, the carrier is considering taking more Indian tourists to the Southeast Asian country in the near future, Boulter said at a ceremony organized by Vietnam’s Ambassador to India Pham Sanh Chau in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Kolkata is the capital of West Bengal, India’s fourth-most populous state.
The number of Indian tourists to Vietnam remained low compared to other Asian countries such as China and South Korea, with only 130,000 arrivals in 2018, surging 30 percent year-on-year. China and South Korea are Vietnam‘s top feeder markets with 4.9 million and 3.4 million visitors last year respectively.
Vietnam first allowed foreign tourists to apply for a visa online in February 2017, starting with 40 countries including China, South Korea and the U.S. In December that year six countries were added to the list, including Australia and India.
India is now one of Vietnam‘s top 10 trading partners, and bilateral trade is on the rise.
Hanoi was recently named among the top 15 destinations in the world by TripAdvisor travelers. It is also on top of the list of most affordable destinations in the world, with backpackers needing just $18.29 a day, according to the 2019 Backpacker Index formulated by Price of Travel, the world’s largest database of travel costs.
Vietnam‘s budget air carrier Vietjet Air last year stated that it planned to launch a direct air route connecting the country’s business hub Ho Chi Minh City to New Delhi to meet the growing overseas travel demand of Vietnamese holiday-goers.
According to Mastercard, Vietnam has the second fastest growing outbound market in the Asia Pacific region after Myanmar, with a projected annual growth of 9.5 percent between 2016 and 2021.
Mastercard has forecast that 7.5 million Vietnamese travelers will travel outside the country in 2021.