The tourism sector in Ho Chi Minh City has showed initial signs of recovery as local travel agents have started offering safe tours to several popular destinations in the city’s low-risk districts.
Some companies in the southern city have recently advertising tours to outlying Can Gio and Cu Chi Districts, which are considered as ‘green zones,’ or areas at low risk of COVID-19 transmissions.
Each tour starts and ends within the same day, offering visitors an opportunity to enjoy the nature, fresh air, and local specialties.
The tours are not packed with many activities as they are designed to offer travelers a quick getaway following a prolonged lockdown.
According to Nguyen Huu Y Yen, general director of Saigontourist Travel Service Company, people have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from the disease within six months in order to take part in the tours.
They must also undergo rapid COVID-19 testing before the journey starts.
“I believe that the new requirements and procedures are not too complicated and will not discourage our customers,” Yen stated.
The municipal authorities have only allowed the resumptions of safe and well-organized tours to ‘green zones,’ he added.
Nguyen Nguyet Van Khanh, deputy head of Vietravel's marketing department, said that a recent survey by the firm showed that travel demand has surged following the fourth coronavirus outbreak, which began on April 27 and has just showed signs of subsiding.
About 80 percent respondents said they want to travel and agreed that safety is the top priority, Khanh continued.
Many of them preferred beaches or places with a low population density, and would like their trips to be short and simple.
The majority of respondents wished to travel with their family members or friends and were not ready to share a trip with strangers.
They also added it would be okay if the service quality is not top-notch, or if the tours do not include many destinations.
“The result of the survey will drastically change the way we operate and design our tours,” Khanh elaborated.
In some northern and central localities, the recovery of the local tourism seems to be more promising.
In such localities as Da Nang, Quang Binh, and Thua Thien-Hue, travel agents have reopened tours for local visitors.
|Frontline workers enjoy a tour to a forest in Can Gio District, Ho Chi Minh City, October 2, 2021. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre|
According to Phan Xuan Anh, chairman of Viet Excursions Company, it is impossible for travel firms to run a massive demand stimulation campaign because the safety standards vary in different provinces and cities.
Travelers’ preferences are also different from those in the past, forcing companies to make changes to their products, Anh added.
“The tourism industry needs to establish a special map so that travelers can review and select safe restaurants, hotels, or shopping places for their trips. This will require the cooperation from local businesses and service providers,” he suggested.
Many travel agents in Ho Chi Minh City have proposed the operation of tours from the city to some nearby destinations.
For example, the tourism management agencies in Ho Chi Minh City and southern Ba Ria - Vung Tau Province have coordinated to develop a self-contained tourism program under which nearly 10 service establishments in Ba Ria - Vung Tau are willing to welcome guests from the city.
Local firms also believed that tours to Phan Thiet, Da Lat, Nha Trang, and Phu Quoc could restart in November.
However, authorities in these localities must first lift their restrictions on visitors from Ho Chi Minh City.
"We have agreed to live safely with the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is unnecessary to maintain too many restrictions,” said Pham Ha, chairman of Lux Group.
The tourism industry will suffer if current restrictions among localities remain intact, Ha stated, adding that requiring visitors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is enough.