Jun 22, 2020 / 08:33

Vietnamese tour operators prepare to welcome inbound tourists

The Hanoitimes - Tour operators, battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, are waiting for the resumption of international air services.

As partners in the source markets are inquiring about starting to send tourists to Vietnam, many Vietnamese travel businesses are working on resuming inbound services though they haven’t known yet when Vietnam would allow foreign entry, The Saigon Times reported.

 Vietnamese travel businesses are working on resuming inbound services. 

Glimmer of hope

After several months without being heard from due to Covid-19, some partners from China and ASEAN countries started talking with Lien Bang Travelink about tours and safe conditions to bring visitors to Vietnam, according to Tu Quy Thanh, director of the Vietnamese tour operator.

“More partners have got back to us when hearing Vietnam could resume international flights from July. We have prepared to cater to our customers as soon as the resumption of international air travel is allowed,” he said.

Pham Ha, CEO of Luxury Travel Group, said the travel agent had received some reservations for German family and small groups in the fourth quarter of 2020 and early 2021.

Currently, the company is updating its offers for the event that international trips resume, focusing on new trends such as slow life, nature travel, connecting people, culture, heritage and health.

In addition, logistical work to ensure the safety of tourists, such as the process of picking up passengers, checking the health of tour guides, organizing seating in cars, restaurants and yachts has been underway.

Dong Hoang Thinh, director of Dong Thi Co., Ltd, also said that the company is currently preparing for the reopening of inbound tourism. The company also had received a number of tour bookings for February next year. The company has now completed its preparation and is focusing on purchasing discount vouchers of hotels to be able to offer tours with good prices. 

“Many hotels or resorts at the moment have no guests, thus there are appealing vouchers. We are purchasing a lot (vouchers) to improve our offers to customers,” he said. 

According to local tour operators, not only domestic enterprises but foreign partners also want international air services to reopen soon to resume services after months of suspension due to Covid-19.

In this context, Vietnam is more attractive, as it is emerging as the first destination to reopen thanks to the containment of Covid-19. Some countries have entered into negotiations with Vietnam to create “travel bubble.”

Products, prices & technical barriers

In the first five months of this year, the number of international visitors to Vietnam decreased by nearly 50% year-on-year, reaching just over 3.7 million. The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism estimates that if the market reopens in the third quarter, the number of inbound visitors can reach from 6 to 8 million by the end of the year.

Vietnam is an attractive destination for many countries. Photo: Pham Huy Trung

According to many travel businesses, the current market is unpredictable and may not reach outstanding growth post Covid-19. The number of visitors to Vietnam depends not only on the attractiveness of products and prices, but also very much on the extent of safety measures.

According to Thanh from Lien Bang Travelink, the government needs to apply safety measures to prevent the pandemic, therefore, visitors upon entry will have to test for viruses. They would go to destinations where accurate, affordable test services, with fast results are provided. On the contrary, only a few numbers of visitors for business purposes would come.

“Tourists will be discouraged if they are retained at the border gates for half a day or more to wait for the test results. The cost for the test is also a problem because testing incurs higher tour cost,” he said.

Other tour operators said that many airlines have begun selling commercial tickets, and are waiting to be allowed to fly. They suggested that the health sector and related agencies need to quickly prepare a set of criteria for reopening and consider speedier testing time for tourists.

These issues were also discussed at a meeting of the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control on June 18. The committee agreed to report to the government on the possibility of resuming commercial air seervices to a number of countries and territories which have basically controlled the disease and have close relations with Vietnam. They also mention quick testing, the Government Portal reported.

Some businesses said that these are positive signs for the reopening of the inbound market soon. The businesses also are hoping that the government will soon put in place the visa-free policy again which was suspended in March to fight the pandemic.