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Vietnam sees travelers return as epidemic at bay

Wednesday, September 30, 2020, 19:52 GMT+7
Vietnam sees travelers return as epidemic at bay
A group of tourists head to Con Dao Islands via airplane in this photo taken in September 2020. Photo: Nguyen Minh / Tuoi Tre

Travel companies in Ho Chi Minh City have seen demand for tourism pick up sharply over the last few days as the second outbreak of COVID-19 in Vietnam has been brought under control.

According to tourism company Vietravel, they have been taking bookings again since the end of August.

The number of tourist group departures as well as the average size of each group increased in September.

From September 26 to 28, over 2,000 guests embarked on tours with Vietravel.

The Mekong Delta, Vung Tau City, Con Dao Islands, Phan Thiet City, Nha Trang City, Phu Quoc Island, and other northern Vietnamese locales have been the most popular destinations.

Seeing a positive turnout, the firm expects to welcome over 10,000 tourists by the end of September.

A representative of travel agency Saigontourist revealed that the firm received 1,334 bookings from solo travelers for their tour services from September to November.

It is also preparing to welcome groups of travelers, adding another 4,309 customers to the total.

Saigontourist anticipates it will serve around 16,000 customers from groups going on tours, attending seminars or doing teambuilding in October and November.

Another firm in the tourism sector, TST Tourist, reported 1,000 customers in September and expects to see 1,500 unique visits in October.

A variety of tours, which include cruises through terraced rice fields in the mountainous areas of northern Vietnam and getaways to temperate areas in Dak Nong Province or Da Lat City in the Central Highlands, have proven popular with travelers.

“Tourists have felt secure enough to embark on new tours," Vietravel said.

"While the previous tourism stimulus package was only applicable to certain times of the year, tourists at the moment can book tours with discounts of up to 50 percent from now to the end of the year."

According to the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism, travel agencies are putting themselves back to the market at a faster rate than the first post-coronavirus recovery phase of the tourism sector back in May.

This is attributable to their sensitivity to market shifts, customer demands, as well as their strict adherence to safety guidelines.

Several firms said they have not frozen their activities completely during the second outbreak in Vietnam, but rather organized tours of small groups to locations deemed safe.

As the second COVID-19 wave has been kept at bay, domestic flights have been restored, which has in turn helped Vietnamese travel agencies get back on their feet much faster.

Considering the current situation, Vietnamese tourism will have to rely predominantly on the domestic market until international tourists are allowed back into the country.

Speaking of foreign tourists, a representative of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism said the agency is devising a phased plan to bring back international visitors into the country, which requires close cooperation of stakeholders in the supply chain to ensure safety and service quality.

Previous calculations showed that the reopening of Vietnam’s borders to foreign tourists in Q4 would bring in 4-4.5 million international visits in 2020, a decline of 13.5-14 million compared to last year.

Despite their dire need to get foreign tourists back, tourism firms speculate that they will only be able to welcome their customer base again in early or mid-2021.

Vietnam began barring entry to foreign nationals on March 22 and has suspended international commercial flights from March 25 in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19. Although certain inbound commercial flights have resumed, no tourists are allowed in.

Other mandates to combat the pandemic, including a 21-day nationwide quarantine period starting April 1, was detrimental hits to domestic tourism.

In an effort to bail out the tourism industry, Vietnamese authorities launched the first domestic tourism demand stimulation program in May.

However, after the country was hit by a new wave of coronavirus infections, which occurred when a locally-transmitted case was recorded in central Da Nang City on July 25 after 99 days of zero community transmissions nationwide, customers shied away from the tourism sector for a second time.

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Xuan Tung - N.Binh / Tuoi Tre News

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