With the country shifting from a ‘zero-Covid’ strategy to living safely with the pandemic and most localities easing Covid restrictions and reopening tourism activities, several travel agencies have been looking for ways to bring back tourists by launching tour packages that cater to new normal requirements.
One common requirement for all tours is that every tourist must be fully vaccinated with the second dose administered at least 14 days before arrival or furnish a certificate showing they had contracted and recovered from Covid. They also need to show a negative Covid certificate using the PCR method within 72 hours before departure.
On Tuesday, authorities in Quang Binh Province, Vietnam's 'Cave Kingdom', approved major tour operator Oxalis Adventure trialing a tour package program that welcomes fully vaccinated domestic tourists from now until June next year.
As envisaged, tourists from HCMC and Hanoi would arrive in Quang Binh by charter flights or buses to join the tour package that allows them to stay at isolated homestays and explore pristine caves like Tien and Tu Lan Caves over five days and four nights.
Travel firm Crystal Bay Intourist in the central province of Khanh Hoa, home to beach resort towns Nha Trang and Cam Ranh, has ought approval from provincial authorities to pilot a month-long tour program starting October 16.
The four-day-and three-night tour package will have tourists from Hanoi and HCMC arrive in Khanh Hoa on charter flights and stay at Cam Ranh Riviera Beach Resort & Spa. They will be allowed to visit some tourist destinations in Nha Trang like Long Son Pagoda, Cham temple Ponagar Tower, Yangbay eco-tourist site and cruise tour on Nha Trang Bay.
Cam Ranh Riviera Beach Resort & Spa in Khanh Hoa Province. Photo courtesy of the resort
In Ha Long Town, Quang Ninh Province, which plans to reopen inter-provincial tourism from November 1, Lux Group is preparing a cruise tour that will allow tourists from Hanoi to explore the world famous Ha Long, Bai Tu Long Bay, Lan Ha and Cat Ba Island in two to four days.
Six Senses Con Dao, the only five-star beach resort on the Con Dao archipelago in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, has been allowed to welcome back domestic tourists on charter flights from October 15 to join a seven-night tour package.
The package enables visitors to enjoy long beaches and engage in eco-tourism activities inside the resort.
Travel firms say that package tours with pandemic restrictions can be considered the only solution in the early stages of tourism revival, given several challenges including inconsistent quarantine policies among localities and expensive operational costs including air tickets for charter flights and regular testing for staff.
Nguyen Chau A, director of Oxalis, said all his staff are fully vaccinated and the company is ready to welcome back tourists after a long time.
Oxalis’s tour programs mainly involve exploring caves, pristine forests and natural landscapes with little contact with large crowds. Therefore, he expected Quang Binh to be one of the first localities to successfully reopening domestic tourism.
Ngo Huu Truong, general director of Crystal Bay Intourist, said his company was awaiting approval from provincial authorities to start welcome first visitors from later this week.
“I hope the launching of these tour package programs will help people feel safe about traveling again after a long time of social distancing and give a boost to the tourism industry.
Vietnam closed its borders and canceled all international flights in March 2020. Foreign arrivals slumped from 18 million in 2019, when tourism revenue was $31 billion, or nearly 12 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, to 3.8 million last year.
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