HCM City awaits nod from ministry to receive foreign travelers
HCM City’s travel firms are reopening to do business in the new normal but domestic demand remains low. The firms are currently seeking permission from agencies to receive foreign travelers.
Frankfurt Mayor Peter Feldmann visits HCM City Post Office on November 9
At 4.30 pm on December 5, 2021, a group of eight travelers from Haha Travel held a livestream showing their travel experiences in H’Mong Village in Quan Ba district of Ha Giang province. This was one of the activities at the HCM City Tourism Festival 2021 organized online.
The travel firm travelled a long distance of 2,000 kilometers from the south to the north. In the post-pandemic period, they wanted to bring the most authentic experience to tourists at the other end of the country.
Haha Travel’s CEO Nguyen Trung Hau said this was a new approach which aimed at increasing added value.
With this way, success depended on people with an internet connection and digital experiences.
“Some older clients don’t use computers and smartphones, which is an obstacle. When organizing online tours combined with offline, the number of direct participants will be smaller. There should be a channel that approaches clients who don’t use digital platforms,” he said.
Saco Travel’s CEO Nguyen Ngoc Tan said the firm has prepared its workforce to adapt to the new circumstances of digital transformation. It is cooperating with e-commerce platforms such as Traveloka, Sen Do and Shopee to popularize their products. The cooperation has brought good results in market access, but purchasing power is still weak.
Bui Thi Ngoc Hieu, Deputy Director of HCM City Tourism Department, said in order to assist travel firms stimulate demand and advertise products and services, from December 4 to December 25, 2021, for the first time, about 100 booths of travel firms and localities will appear online at the HCM City Tourism Festival using 2D and 3D technologies.
Hieu said most of the activities of the event will be organized online, because the current conditions are not safe enough for offline activities. Travelers and travel firms can learn more information from the department’s official website.
When will HCM City receive foreign travelers?
Hau said there should be programs and events that attract attention - for example, free performance shows which help create a ‘touch point’ between clients and travel firms.
If people lack reasons to access a website to learn information, it will be very difficult to attract them.
According to Saco Travel, domestic demand is still weak. Meanwhile, localities are applying different policies on pandemic prevention and control, which causes confusion.
Travelers, for example, have installed PC-Covid, the national Covid-29 prevention and control app, but it is not accepted in some provinces. Some localities set strict requirements which cause difficulties for travel activities, such as in Binh Thuan, Lam Dong and Da Nang.
Travel firms want more open policies so that they can begin receiving foreign travelers soon. The recovery of the sector will lead to the recovery of many relevant industries.
A report found that the number of foreign travelers to HCM City every year accounts for 50 percent of total foreign travelers to Vietnam. Tourism made up 10 percent of the city’s GRDP (Gross regional domestic product) before the Covid-19 outbreak.
Because of the pandemic, total revenue from tourism in the first 11 months of the year dropped by 44 percent compared with the same period last year to VND42.667 trillion, and by 69 percent compared with the same period of 2019.
HCM City Vice Mayor Phan Thi Thang said the city has asked the Government and ministries to open the door to foreign travelers in December. The city wants the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) and the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) to collect opinions from relevant ministries and branches on the reopening plan and submit a report to the Prime Minister to open HCM City for foreign travelers.
Meanwhile, VNAT General Director Nguyen Trung Khanh said that Vietnam should focus on ensuring safety for destinations and on promoting domestic travel in the recovery period of 2021-2023.
MCST will consider the necessary conditions on deciding the reopening and receiving of foreign travelers to HCM City.
Vietnam has welcomed back foreign travelers since November. In the first phase of the reopening, Vietnam receives foreign travelers who come under packaged tours, on chartered and commercial flights to selected areas in Phu Quoc, Khanh Hoa, Quang Nam, Da Nang and Quang Ninh.
HCM City has actively applied technology and digital platforms to promote tourism.
Travel firms are concerned about the inconsistency of policies. The unpredictability makes it impossible to plan their business, they say.