|Thailand has become one among top favourite destinations of Vietnamese tourists. — Photo motthegioi
HA NOI (VNS) — The number of Vietnamese tourists visiting Thailand is expected to drop following Monday's bomb blast in central Bangkok that killed at least 20 people and injured 140, including a Vietnamese man.
Many tourists who had booked tours to Thailand, one of the most popular destinations for Vietnamese, are now worried about safety and planning to go elsewhere instead.
Trinh Thi My Nghe, director of the International Travel Company, told Viet Nam News that 95 per cent of clients who booked tours to Thailand have asked to cancel them.
"It is understandable," Nghe, who is also a vice chairwoman of the Ha Noi Association of Tourism, said.
"There are many other similar options for tourists. They can visit other countries in the region or places in Viet Nam like Nha Trang and Phu Quoc at the same cost."
Le Quynh Phuong, head of outbound tourism at Viettravel in Ha Noi, said the blast has had a significant bearing on customers' plans and many want to change their destination, something her company is willing to help with, she added.
Hoang Thu Hanh of the capital's Hai Ba Trung District said she had booked a tour to Thailand during the Independence Day (September 2) holiday, but decided to change plans following the bombing.
"There are many other destinations, both inside and outside the country, for me to choose [from]. I do not think it is safe enough to visit Thailand at present.
"I can visit Thailand in the future when security is better."
Right after the blast, Vietnamese travel agents together with their partners made plans to ensure their customers' safety.
Tran Thi Viet Huong, marketing director of Vietravel, said the company's partners in Thailand and tour guides were constantly updating information to ensure the safety of tourists. Those in Bangkok were advised to stay in their hotels in the evening and avoid crowded areas.
"All customers of Viettravel in Thailand are safe and continuing with their tours. The company is organising tours to Thailand as usual."
The Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) on Tuesday asked travel agents to closely co-operate with foreign partners and Vietnamese agencies in Thailand to take measures to ensure the safety of Vietnamese tourists and their belongings.
It urged travel agencies and tourists to consider revising their Thailand travel plans.
It warned that travel agencies should not take tourists to vulnerable areas or crowded places and diligently take note of security warnings.
The companies should immediately notify Vietnamese diplomatic agencies and the VNAT about arising issues for a timely response, it said, adding that though Thailand is a magnet for Vietnamese tourists, it has also had a host of recent security concerns.
Ha Van Sieu, its deputy head, said travel agents should pay attention to security warnings from other countries before departure and immediately notify Vietnamese missions and the VNAT if any issues arose.
The Vietnamese embassy in Bangkok has recommended that Vietnamese tourists should not visit the site of the bombing until the situation improves and should follow the guidance of local authorities.
It is working closely with Thai agencies to gather information and support Vietnamese citizens. Those who need assistance can contact +66 89 89 666 53 or +84 981 84 84 84.
Vietnam Airlines said it would assist passengers planning to travel to or from Bangkok until September 18. People with confirmed tickets to or from the Thai capital between August 18 and September 18 and want to change their schedule can do so for free.
Thai online newspaper The Nation said the Foreign Ministry has assured foreign diplomats that the Government is able to handle the situation after the deadly blast on Monday.
In the wake of the atrocity, authorities are increasing safeguards and security measures at major tourist attractions, public areas, airports, and zoos.
Tours to Thailand have been an ideal option for Vietnamese in recent years due to their low prices and quality services. The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects 700,000 Vietnamese visitors this year.
Vietravel, a major travel agency, reported that in the past few years 40 percent of its clients went to Thailand, with the number reaching a record 13,886 in July. — VNS