'Tiger on a bicycle': the growth and character of international tourism in Vietnam

Annabel Biles, Kate Lloyd, William S. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the 1990s renewed Western interest in Vietnam has led to a surge in tourist numbers. For many of the world’s tourists Vietnam now represents a unique, exotic, and unexplored travel option, the new “Asian Adventure." Some elements of the Western media and business world have seen a new Asian tiger in the making. However, growth in international tourism to Vietnam, like the Vietnamese economy in general, has slowed down in the late 1990s and other commentators have, more hesitantly, likened Vietnam to a “tiger on a bicycle." This article investigates the approach to marketing Vietnam as an international tourist destination by Vietnamese tourism authorities and state-owned companies as well as foreign tourist companies. It identifies signs that the market is changing—perhaps declining—and asks what this means for Vietnamese tourism strategies. This article asks whether the current tourism marketing approach is attracting the “right kind" of tourists to Vietnam but also questions the extent to which the Vietnamese government—or, indeed, the government of any lesser developed country—could influence the character of the market.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-23
Number of pages13
JournalPacific Tourism Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • tourist marketing
  • tourism development
  • economic transition
  • Vietnam
  • Asian economic crisis


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