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Vietnamese tourism firms, airlines show mixed reactions over Vietnam’s absence from China’s outbound destination list

Vietnamese tourism firms, airlines show mixed reactions over Vietnam’s absence from China’s outbound destination list

Saturday, February 11, 2023, 08:51 GMT+7
Vietnamese tourism firms, airlines show mixed reactions over Vietnam’s absence from China’s outbound destination list
Tourism authorities and Chinese tourists pose for a photo at Cam Ranh International Airport in Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam following their arrival on January 24, 2023. Photo: Thuc Nghi / Tuoi Tre

China has announced a list of 20 countries where its companies can take tour travelers to, with Vietnam excluded, causing mixed reactions amongst Vietnamese tourism firms.

The 20 countries include seven other Southeast Asian countries - Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

The rest are Argentina, Cuba, Egypt, Fiji, Hungary, Kenya, Maldives, New Zealand, Russia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates.

Tu Quy Thanh, general director of Ho Chi Minh City-based Lien Bang Travel Trading Co. Ltd., has been worried about Vietnam’s exclusion from the list, blaming it on some existing technical problems.

Thanh said Vietnam is slow to resume the e-visa issuance policy, making purchasing tours provided by travel companies the only option for tourists.

“The later Vietnam fixes the technical problems, the more travel companies, airlines, catering services, hotels and accommodations, and the retail sector are negatively affected,” he added.

Approaching the issue in an optimistic way, a representative of national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines said that the firm and its competitors were not surprised by the result.

The carrier, which currently operates regular flights connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with Guangzhou and Shanghai and plans to resume nine more out of its ten services between Vietnam and China in March and April, is confident that Vietnam outperforms any other destinations in the said list in terms of trade and tourism relations with China, as well as the need for travel connections.

In the same opinion, Nguyen Quoc Ky, chairman of Vietravel Airlines, said at the ceremony to debut the Ho Chi Minh City - Bangkok air service on Thursday that he believes the aviation and tourism sectors will take off in the near future, maybe in April, thanks to the reopening of the Chinese market.

Meanwhile, a leader of an airline urged faster resumption of regular flights to and from China, despite the subpar rate of travelers in the first months of 2023, in order to maintain takeoff and landing slots in Chinese airports in the long run.

The Chinese government had banned domestic travel agents from selling overseas travel packages since January 2020 after COVID-19 started spreading in China.

China, which used to be the largest source of tourists in Southeast Asia before the pandemic hit, has just reopened its borders since January 8 after three years of sticking to its zero-COVID policy.

Following China’s border reopening, HSBC, a Hong Kong-based lender, forecast in its latest report on Vietnam’s economy that the Southeast Asian country will see a recovery of the number of Chinese visitors by 50-80 percent in 2023 compared to the pre-pandemic volume.

In other words, Vietnam is set to welcome three to 4.5 million Chinese tourists this year.

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Bao Anh - N. Binh - Cong Trung / Tuoi Tre News

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