As restrictions relax under the new-normal and tourism resumes around the country, travel agencies are still encountering obstacles to their operations.
Hanoitourist has hosted their first packaged group tour from Hà Nội to the northern province of Bắc Giang, the first of its kind as the company adapt to the new-normal situation.
“The group consisted of 17 people but we had to use a 45-seat car due to the distancing regulation,” Lê Hồng Thái, deputy director of Hanoitourist told Việt Nam News.
“Luckily our trip was safe and sound. Destinations included West Yên Tử Ecological Tourism, Vĩnh Nghiêm Pagoda and the Trúc Lâm Phượng Hoàng Zen Institute, in cool autumn weather.”
A visitor (left) registers at a tourism site in Bắc Giang Province. — Photo courtesy of Hanoitourist
Lưu Xuân San, director of Bắc Giang Province’s Tourism Centre, said the agency was happy to receive the first group of tourists from Hà Nội.
“We are planning for new products to draw tourists again after a long distancing period,” he said.
Bắc Giang is now a green zone, which means it is fully opening its doors to domestic travellers.
San said only people from level 4 areas (having the highest level of pandemic risk) should take COVID-19 tests to enter the province.
HCM City-based Saco Travel company has just hosted free tours for frontline health workers from HCM City to Tây Ninh.
“Provinces should set up hotlines for tourism companies and visitors to consult on how they can get support, test for COVID-19 and create guides for emergencies,” said Nguyễn Ngọc Tấn, vice chairman of HCM City Travel Agencies Association and general director of Saco Travel.
Tấn said provinces should update their websites essential information on entry criteria for guests to enter localities.
“We, like other companies, face a lack of information and concrete guidelines.
Tấn said HCM City is the biggest tourism market and a leading hub for exchanging tourists in the country.
A group of tourists take a cable car to Bà Đen Mountain in Tây Ninh Province. — Photo Courtesy of Vietravel
“We want to connect localities and revive routes, but there are still many troubles to solve,” he said.
“For example, for a tour passing through three or four provinces, if tourists have to stop in every province to provide COVID-19 tests, fill in health forms, and announce their departure places and destinations, no one will want to go,” he said.
These are the obstacles that face visitors and tourism companies in the reopening period.
Tưởng Hữu Lộc, vice chairman of Lâm Đồng Province’s Tourism Association, said the province is willing to receive guests, but not enough tourism workers have fully vaccinated yet. The province may be able to receive visitors by the end of November or early December.
The director of the Hiếu Tour Company in Cần Thơ Province, Nguyễn Hồng Hiếu, said localities should research the wants of tourists and introduce suitable products in the new-normal period.
“Travel agencies, hotels, airlines, and other service suppliers should co-operate more closely to offer safe, attractive package tours at favourable prices, along with agile regulations adaptable to changing situations,” he stressed.
Hiếu knows that there are not enough tour guides in localities who have had two doses of vaccine, so he suggested giving priority vaccine shots to tour guides and other tourism workers.
The first group of tourists from Hà Nội to Bác Giang on Octòber 23, after a long social distancing period. — Photo courtesy of Hanoitourist
Phạm Hải Quỳnh, general director of Vân Hải Xanh Travel, said Guideline 3862 issued by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has created favourable conditions to revive tourism activities.
“If all localities throughout the country follow the instructions, enterprises and destinations will revive their operations more quickly,” he said.
“But in fact, each locality has their own policies, which leads to complicated regulations not recognised by other localities,” he said.
Nguyễn Nguyệt Vân Khanh, deputy head of the Marketing Department of Vietravel, said: “Each sector has introduced concrete guidelines for operation but localities still stick to their own criteria.”
She analysed that tourism is not a standalone economic sector, and it requires inter-regional cooperation.
“To revive tourism, each related sector like restaurants, accommodation, destinations, transportation, shopping… should operate at once,” she said. “Otherwise we cannot solve this problem properly.”
“The most important thing for opening safely is a high ratio of people getting vaccines,” Khanh said.
According to Trần Thanh Vũ, general director of Vina Group SJC, a digital map on pandemic levels should be updated every day so that tourism companies can offer the most suitable products and tours.
“For example, my company wants to make a tour to Cà Mau Province but when we reach Bạc Liêu Province, we may be asked for this or that certificate, then we cannot carry out that tour,” he said.
Vũ said localities should soon introduce appropriate policies to gradually resume tourism activities. VNS