Though China added Vietnam to its list of approved countries for group tours on March 15, flights carrying groups of Chinese tourists to Khanh Hoa Province in the south-central region will not resume until March 26, according to Cam Ranh International Terminal Joint Stock Company.
Accordingly, low-cost air carrier Vietjet Air will run about 34 round-trip flights between China and Khanh Hoa from March 26 to March 31.
While China Southern Airlines has plans to reopen an air route connecting China with Cam Ranh International Airport in Khanh Hoa on March 26 with one daily flight, the frequency will float between 25 and 30 daily international flights from mid-April 2023 onward.
Several local travel firms which specialize in facilitating Chinese tourism to Khanh Hoa said that China repealing its prohibition of outbound group tours to Vietnam, and Khanh Hoa in particular, would be a big boost to local tourism, enabling outlets to sell more tours for the upcoming holidays – Reunification Day (April 30) and International Workers' Day (May 1) – as well as during the peak summer travel season.
|Passengers on a direct flight transporting them from China’s Chengdu to Khanh Hoa Province, south-central Vietnam on January 23, 2023. Photo: Thuc Nghi/ Tuoi Tre|
Do Thi Van Anh, director of Khanh Thai Vietnam Travel Company, said that her firm has collaborated with its Chinese partners to receive the first flight departing from China to Khanh Hoa, which will carry some 200 passengers, on March 26.
“Our travel firm will arrange four-day-and-three-night and five-day-and-four-night tours, coupled with four- or five-star accommodation, for these Chinese visitors. They will visit the Thap Ba Po Nagar Tower and Hon Chong [Husband Islet], as well as go on an island tour,” said Anh.
Anh added that tourists in the group can opt to explore the province’s tourist sites by themselves, or buy add-on tours from the company.
Her firm is actively seeking out quality service providers given that many of the businesses in Khanh Hoa which specialized in servicing Chinese customers shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Dao Trong Tung, director of Vietnam Tourism Charter Company and chairman of the Travel Businesses Association for Chinese Visitors in Khanh Hoa, 21 tour operators affiliated with the association are ready and waiting to welcome back Chinese tourists.
The province is home to more than 55,000 rooms, with over half of them being rated three-star or higher, giving it the ability to welcome the massive number of expected Chinese holidaymakers, said Vo Quang Hoang, chairman of the Khanh Hoa Hotel Association.
However, after a three-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many travel firms are facing a shortage of tour guides.
“Travel companies are offering multiple training courses to their new staff and calling on old experienced employees to return to work for key posts,” Hoang said, adding that service providers will surely reopen their doors once crowds of tourists return to the city.
Do Thi Van Anh, director of Khang Thai Vietnam Travel, said that the firm’s outlets in China were speeding up their sales of tours on social media, attracting much interest of Chinese tourists for trips to Nha Tranh – a major tourism hub in Khanh Hoa.
|Many eateries and shops specializing in serving Chinese visitors remain shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Hoai Bao/ Tuoi Tre|
“However, Thai tour operators still have an advantage over Vietnamese players as Thailand has been receiving Chinese tour groups since it was put on China’s list of countries and territories where Chinese tour operators are allowed to organize tours, which came into effect on February 6. Besides, Thailand’s visa waiver programs and cheap tour prices make the country more attractive to Chinese travelers,” said Anh.
Chinese authorities on January 20 announced that they would launch the first phase of a pilot program to resume outbound group tours to 20 nations, including many Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Laos, beginning on February 6.
Meanwhile, China added Vietnam to the second phase of its pilot program, starting from March 15.