Pandemic dampens national holiday travel enthusiasm

By Gia Minh   September 1, 2020 | 05:00 am PT
Pandemic dampens national holiday travel enthusiasm
Ticket booths at Mien Dong Bus Station in HCMC, August 31, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Minh.
The number of tickets sold at HCMC’s bus stations for the National Day holiday on September 2 has dropped by half compared to previous years.

On Monday morning, the usually crowded Mien Dong Bus Station had just a few people buying tickets to travel during the National Day holiday.

The station, the largest in Vietnam, hosts buses that travel from Ho Chi Minh City to south-eastern provinces as also the central and northern regions.

Do Van Phuong, 34, said he had just bought two sleeping bus tickets to travel to the beach town of Nha Trang on Tuesday night.

"I could have booked these tickets online but from experience in previous years, it’s usually difficult to buy tickets on the company’s website as too many people do it at the same time. So I decided to come here in person to be certain. But there were not many passengers and I got the tickets quite easily. "

Also Tuesday, Hoang Dung, 26, bought a ticket for Phu Yen Province, also on the central coast. She got the tickets within five minutes, and there were still many left for different departure times.

"Due to the pandemic, not many people are choosing to travel this holiday. We do not have to jostle to buy tickets as we’ve had to in previous years," she said.

Do Phu Dat, deputy director of the station, said the number of passengers traveling from the station was around 14,000 on September 1, down 55 percent against last year, and 16,000 on September 2, down 72 percent.

Ever since the pandemic resurfaced in Da Nang City late July, the average number of passengers at the station has dropped by as much as 21,000 each day.

Staff at the Mien Tay Bus Station, from where passengers travel to the Mekong Delta, said the number of tickets sold for this National Day holiday has dropped around 50-55 percent over last year at just 18,000-20,000 on the peak day, September 1.

At both stations, staff blame the Covid-19 pandemic for the significant drop of passengers.

Due to the national social distancing campaign in April and the resurfacing of the pandemic, the number of passengers traveling from the two stations between April 23 and August 16 dropped 48 percent against last year.

Vietnam has recorded 1,044 Covid-19 cases to date with 735 recoveries and 34 deaths.

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