Ho Chi Minh City in recent days has welcomed throngs of tourists from other countries, with many of them enjoying the pre-Tet atmosphere in the southern city.
They have arrived in the city at a time when local residents are busy preparing for Tet, the biggest holiday in the country, with the first day of the lunar year falling on February 10.
Among them, a group of more than 350 German tourists from the MS Europa cruise ship, owned and operated by the German company Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, have had the chance to learn about the Vietnamese traditional Tet holiday while exploring the city’s famous tourist attractions.
According to a representative of Saigontourist Travel which organized the two-day tour, the tourists really enjoy the atmosphere in the days ahead of Tet in Vietnam because local cultural features and beautiful scenery are showcased clearly at that time.
“They have captured and posted photos of Vietnamese people celebrating Tet on social media, contributing to promoting Vietnamese tourism," he said.
In the past, foreign tourists were usually reluctant to travel to Vietnamese cities during Tet because essential services were closed and the cities turned deserted as people came back to their hometowns for the holiday.
However, more and more services remain open during Tet now.
According to Ngo Van Ha, head of the management board of Ben Thanh Market in District 1, during the peak of Tet, while the number of local visitors decreased, international visitors to the market were still remarkable and accounted for more than 60 percent of customers.
Therefore, vendors were able to sell more goods, mainly products such as coffee, macadamia nuts, candies, souvenirs, and clothing.
|Tourits shop at Ben Thanh Market in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City ahead of Tet holiday. Photo: N.Binh / Tuoi Tre
After the German group, Saigontourist Travel is expected to welcome the Celebrity Cruises operated by global cruise holding company Royal Caribbean Group with 3,000 tourists from the U.S, Canada, the UK, Australia and some Asian countries.
They plan to tour across Vietnam from February 14 to 18, arriving at ports in Ba Ria - Vung Tau, Nha Trang, Hue, and Ha Long.
Also in February, there will be three more cruises to Vietnam, signaling a prosperous year for Vietnamese tourism in general and cruise tourism in particular.
Local travel companies anticipated that Vietnam will continue to welcome large groups of international visitors to big cities such as Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Phu Quoc, and Phan Thiet in February, the peak season for inbound tourism.
According to experts, the number of tourists has skyrocketed thanks to favorable policies in extending visa-free stays for foreign tourists from a number of countries, as well as in granting e-visas to citizens of all countries from mid-August last year.
|Tourits shop at Ben Thanh Market in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City ahead of Tet holiday. Photo: Tu Trung / Tuoi Tre