Tourists on Ca Na beach in Thuan Nam district of Ninh Thuan province (Photo: VNA)
Many popular tourist attractions across Vietnam have seen a gradual increase in domestic tourists on being re-opened after nearly two months hibernating due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the pandemic in the country has been under control with no new cases in nearly 20 days and the social distancing regulations have been eased, many families have gone on vacation after weeks being confined at home.
However, many are still wary of the virus, so they opt to travel by private vehicles to nearby destinations instead of buying tours. There has also been an increase in online bookings for hotels or flight tickets instead of via travel agencies.
Ha Thi Thu Thao’s family, consisting of eight adults and four children from Hanoi, has chosen a resort that is located around 60km from the city for their holiday.
“I feel quite worried that the COVID-19 epidemic is not over yet, so I booked a separate villa with a private pool and used our own car to drive to the resort instead of using a service car,” she said, adding that her family also brought along food and drinks from home.
After checking in at the resort, they abided by regulations on virus prevention by wearing masks, washing hands with disinfectant solution and filing online medical declarations for family members.
The staff at the resort also regularly reminded tourists to practice prevention measures, so Thao felt secure when her children played around in the villa before coming back to school on May 11.
Many provinces have also come up with tourism products and offered many promotions or discounts to attract tourists.
Notably, as many tourist attractions have re-opened their doors, the tourism authority of HCM City has cooperated with travel agencies to launch tours entitled "Following the Sai Gon Special Force Footprint".
Joining the tour, tourists will disguise themselves as the liberation special force members operating in Sai Gon during the anti-American war. They will be able to drive the old cars and motorcycles that belong to the real Sai Gon Special Force, creep in the tunnels or eat at the places where special force members used to gather. Particularly, most destinations within the tour have been equipped with modern technology combined with practical experiences.
According to Nguyen Tien Dat, General Director of AZA Tourism Company, he has never witnessed such a gloomy time for domestic travel agencies over 20 years working in the field.
In contrast, in previous years, he used to warn tourists about tours or booking shortages as well as price increases, overcharging or traffic congestion in many destinations.
The tourism demand during holidays is still high this year but short-term tours, family trips, small groups or groups of youngsters backpacking have become more common, he added.
According to travel consulting firm Outbox Consulting, domestic travel is poised to drive Vietnam’s tourism recovery this summer.
Domestic tours with short-haul and safe destinations would be preferred after the pandemic crisis, and travel companies should focus on working individuals and millennials instead of groups of guests.
“For now, the city’s tourism sector will focus on domestic travel,” said Bui Ta Hoang Vu, Director of HCM City’s Department of Tourism.
Travel agencies and tour operators that meet safety standards based on a set of evaluation indicators for Covid-19 risk assessment at tourism and travel businesses will be allowed to operate tours, Vu said.
As businesses resume operation, preventive measures to ensure the health and safety of customers are a priority to adapt to the new normal, he said.
At least 90 percent of small- and medium-sized travel companies have suspended operations, while state-owned businesses are operating on low capacity as the coronavirus shut down travel.
He said it was a positive sign that some travel companies were set to resume operations after the holiday.
HCM City tourism authorities are gearing up for intensive promotions to encourage locals to travel.
Tran Viet Hung, Chairman of the HCM City Tourism Association, said the association has kicked off stimulus tour programmes with discounts of 40 percent.VNA