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Independent tourism booms, travel firms anxious about their future

About 6.2 million people traveled during the nine-day Tet holiday, according to VNAT. But most were independent tourists who did not buy tours from travel firms.


People wait for a cable car at Fansipan


As Vietnam has entered the new normal, tourism is witnessing a boom. Millions of people traveled during the holiday after a long period of having to stay at home because of the pandemic.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) reported that during the holiday, 6.2 million people flocked to attractions in 35 key tourism sites. Tay Ninh received 600,000 travelers and Vung Tau City 204,500. As many as 112,000 travelers went to Da Lat, an increase of 167 percent over 2021 Tet. Khanh Hoa received 98,610 tourists, Phu Quoc City 79,000 and Sa Pa 74,400. The number of tourists to Phu Yen increased sharply by 173 percent (42,000).

Most travelers were self-sufficient and ordered services several days before departure, when they felt safe about traveling. It was easy to book air tickets and hotel rooms thanks to the internet and the presence of online travel agencies.

Nguyen Van Tai, CEO of Vietsense, said that families designed their own programs to avoid Covid risks from crowds on tours. They organized trips for family members and close friends, and used private cars instead of public transport services.

As a result, there were many travelers at tourism sites but few tourism brands.

“I can see that people now travel independently and travel firms are now in an ‘offside position’. If this movement continues, tourism will prosper again, but there will be fewer professional travel firms organizing tours,” he said.

An analyst said that independent travel was already seen before the pandemic and is a growing tendency. Tourists can easily ‘hunt’ for vouchers and well priced tours, and transport means. Meanwhile, travel firms now have to compete with online travel agencies.

According to travel firms, the high number of travelers at tourism sites during Tet is a sign of the strong recovery of the industry after two years of stagnation because of Covid-19. However, travel firms are not happy because they have few customers.

Tour benefits

According to Tai, many people take the initiative in arranging their time and ordering services themselves.

However, travel firms are ‘specialists’ trained in their profession with experience designing tours and itineraries most suitable to travelers’ conditions. With their services, tourists can have good experiences at the most reasonable cost and time. They can also save money thanks to preferences offered by service providers to travel firms.

Tai said if government agencies don’t take action to support travel firms, Vietnam’s tourism industry may no longer have travel firms. If so, tourism will fall to foreign online tech firms.

He cited risks for independent tourism development, including traffic jams caused by the convergence of the high number of private cars at some tourism attractions. As people flock to tourism attractions, they may be overcharged when using local services.

He mentioned the overcharging in Vung Tau (in Ba Ria – Vung Tau) and Nha Trang (Khanh Hoa province) which received a high number of tourists; the thousands of people going to Hoi An ancient town; and the jam which occurred as people waited for a cable car at Fansipan.

The overcrowding may also trigger a new Covid wave. The high number of tourists flocking to attractions will cause difficulties for localities to deploy anti-pandemic measures.

A representative of TST Tourist said independent tourism has some inconveniences so it would be better for tourists to choose the tours organized by prestigious firms. If so, they can travel at most reasonable costs and can feel safe about the professionalism of the tour organizers.


HCM City received 300,000 travelers during the Tet holiday.

From January 29 to February 6 (the eve of the New Lunar Year and the sixth day of the year), HCM City received 300,000 travelers to tourism attractions which brought revenue of VND300 billion. Accommodation services service saw hotel rooms booked 500,000 nights with revenue of VND1.2 trillion. Revenue from other kinds of services (transport, food…) was VND1.6 trillion from 1 million customers. As such, the total revenue of HCM City’s tourism industry was VND3.1 trillion for the seven-day period.


Ng. Ha

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