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Ho Chi Minh city travel agencies to set ‘safe destinations’ criteria

October 26, 2020 | 15:26

Leading travel agencies in Ho Chi Minh city are seeking ways to set criteria for safe travel destinations, in a bid to reboot domestic tourism and get ready for international arrivals post-COVID-19.

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A survey conducted by Outbox Consulting Services and Destinations Management Company showed that 92 percent of respondents were worried about sanitation and safety at accommodations.

Eighty-three per cent of participants did not want to travel if they must participate in a quarantine process at their destination.

Eighty-three per cent of visitors also thought that quarantine areas had the same risk as infection as other areas.

About 79 per cent of respondents believed that publicising and following the Government’s safe tourism criteria was the most important factor.

Dang Manh Phuoc, director of Outbox Consulting, suggested four core goals of safe criteria for service providers and visitors, VNS reported.

92 percent of respondents were worried about sanitation and safety at accommodations while traveling (Photo: VNS)
92 percent of respondents were worried about sanitation and safety at accommodations while traveling (Photo: VNS)

Firstly, businesses and personnel in the tourism sector must be trained in implementing regulations on the prevention of COVID-19.

The second goal is ensuring community health and safety standards, and the third is creating the belief that Việt Nam is a safe destination for visitors.

Finally, new attractions and destinations should be publicised widely to lure visitors.

Phuoc said the four goals could promote confidence among visitors, and connect visitors and tourism businesses and individuals.

Nguyen Viet Anh, head of the travel section of the HCM City Department of Tourism, said: “Localities need to work with others to create unified safe criteria to reboot tourism promotion.”

Technology applications are important as well. For example, building a safe tourism app is a way to manage and control the safe criteria.

The department has promoted, via publicity, safe and attractive destinations, which is an important step to prepare for international visitors in the upcoming time.

According to the General Statistics Office of Viet Nam, total foreign arrivals in the first nine months was 3.79 million, a decrease of 70.6 per cent in comparison with the same period in 2019.

Revenue from travel services was VND14.2 trillion (US$610 million), a year-on-year drop of 56 per cent.

Nguyen Huu Yen, general director of Saigontourist, said the company was focusing on domestic tourism now.

Viet Nam has been welcoming foreign Yen and experts who have been allowed to enter the country, so Yên expects the criteria for safe tourism and destinations will be issued in one or two months to welcome tourists.

Ngo Minh Duc, chairman of Hospitality Group (HG) Holdings, and member of the Viet Nam Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), said the Government has asked the National Tourism Adminstration to build criteria on safe tourism destinations.

Duc added that foreign tourists had made great contributions to the sector, but in the next 12 months, travel firms should promote local tourism to compensate for the losses.

To ensure safety for everyone, Viet Nam will open for international visitors only after a vaccine against COVID-19 appears.

Tours to adjust to new customer needs

Meanwhile, tourism experts have also said travel firms need to take travellers’ new concerns into account to design tourism products after the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 has changed tourists’ behaviours and preferences, Nguyen Thu Hanh, chairwoman of the Scientific Union for Sustainable Tourism Development, has recently told the Dau Tu (Investment) newspaper.

After the health crisis ends, customers will pay attention to hygiene and safety and seek destinations closer to home. Travel firms need to offer tours adjusted to tourists' new expectations and needs, she said.

Tours should focus on helping local residents discover nearby landscapes in popular tourist destinations such as HCM City and Ha Noi.

Foreign visitors in Ninh Binh, Vietnam (Photo: Vietnam Tours)
Foreign visitors in Ninh Binh, Vietnam (Photo: Vietnam Tours)

Nguyen Cong Hoan, general director of Flamingo Redtour, said his company was offering a staycation product to serve local residents in Ha Noi. The company has cooperated with five-star hotels in the city to offer domestic tourists tours to the Old Quarter, the Opera House, Government Guesthouse and West Lake.

Phung Xuan Khanh, director of Tien Phong Travel, said his company was renewing its tours to discover the beauty of Ha Noi City and its lifestyles and local cuisine, as well as shopping.

Nguyen Van Tài, general director of VietSense Travel, said his company has designed new tour packages for English-speaking markets, including Hanoi-Ha Long-Sapa and Mekong Delta tour packages for three to five days.

Previously, tour packages were designed with itineraries of 7-15 days to discover various destinations from the north to the south.

Nearby tourist attractions are now being offered to reduce travel time and cut costs as part of an effort to fulfill customer demand for short-haul travel, he said.

Earlier at a recent COVID-19 response meeting, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Transport to devise clear, unified, and favorable procedures regarding the reopening of international commercial routes.

These plans should then be reported to Deputy Prime Ministers Pham Binh Minh and Vu Duc Dam for consideration and decision.

Vietnam has gradually resumed international commercial flights to six countries and territories as of September 15, following the containment of COVID-19 in these destinations.

However, problems regarding quarantine fees were detected following the launch of a number of pilot flights, forcing authorities subsequently to temporarily suspend these journeys. As such they are awaiting a unified quarantine fee mechanism formulated by relevant ministries and agencies.

At present, the country is receiving foreign experts, business executives, and highly-skilled workers to come and work on investment projects domestically. It has closed borders to foreign travelers since the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in March and it remains unknown when foreign holidaymakers will be welcomed back.

To date, Vietnam records a total of 1,168 COVID-19 cases, of which 1,168 have recovered and discharged from the hospital. The death toll stays meagerly at 35. The country has gone 50 days without any community transmission.

The Ministry of Health recommends ministries, branches, and localities to be well-prepared for any urgent response.

Residents are advised to thoroughly follow the “5K messages”, especially wearing face masks and washing hands with soap and antiseptic solution.

Meanwhile, the world’s accumulative cases have reached 41 billion, with 1.1 lives have been claimed. The US, India, and Canada are the three hardest-hit nations worldwide.

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