Major tourist destinations overrun by summer holiday crowds

By Nguyen Quy, Nguyen NamJuly 21, 2020 | 08:54 pm PT
Major tourist destinations overrun by summer holiday crowds
Passengers wait at Da Nang International Airport in central Vietnam, July 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
With the summer holiday peaking, top tourist hotspots in Vietnam were jammed by throngs of tourists, especially during weekends.

Tran Nguyen, sales director of Sun Group, a giant hospitality property developer in Sa Pa, said the resort town saw a big increase in visitors over the past weeks.

"In the last two weeks, the number of weekend visitors to Sa Pa increased by 20-30 percent compared to early July, but only reached 70 percent against 2019," Nguyen said.

Sa Pa in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai offers access to Mount Fansipan, "the roof of Indochina" at 3,143 m.

While Covid-19 has been raging across the world, Vietnam has gone 97 days without detecting a single case of infection caused by community transmission. No Covid-19 deaths have been recorded to date and the national count of active cases is 36, all of whom are foreigners and Vietnamese repatriates quarantined upon arrival.

Nguyen Van Tung, director of Tay Bac travel firm, said holiday crowds have led to traffic congestion and hotel room overload.

"Last weekend, long lines of vehicles were seen at Tam Dao (a famous resort town in the northern province of Vinh Phuc), while some accommodation facilities in Son Tay, Hoa Binh and Cat Ba (in the northern region) suffered overload."

Tung said since the country lifted Covid-19 social distancing measures in April, Vietnam’s tourism has never been as busy as now. His travel firm served around 1,000 visitors in the first 20 days of July, up 40 percent from the previous month and 25 percent against the same period last year.

Nguyen Thi Bao, chairwoman of the Quang Ninh Tourism Association, said last weekend witnessed a surge of tourists flocking to Ha Long Bay.

Ha Long, a UNESCO heritage site in the northern province of Quang Ninh, on average received about 100,000 visitors a day last Saturday and Sunday. Some services, such as restaurants and accommodation, were inundated.

Dao Hong Thuong, director of Vietsky Travel, said some tourist destinations famous for gorgeous beaches like Tuy Hoa (capital of Phu Yen Province), Quy Nhon (in Binh Dinh Province), and Phu Quoc (Vietnam's largest island in Kien Giang Province) have been constantly overcrowded this summer.

"My business encountered many challenges when booking accommodation services, transportation and tour guides in July due to peaking demand," he said.

Specifically, beach town Quy Nhon has faced a serious shortage of hotel rooms and services. It is almost impossible to book rooms and cars at this time, Thuong added.

Da Lat's authorities estimated the Central Highlands resort town welcomed 40,000 visitors a day last weekend, putting greater pressure on local traffic infrastructure.

The Da Lat night market is flooded with holiday-goers on July 18, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Huong.

The Da Lat night market is flooded with holiday-goers on July 18, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Huong.

A representative of Phu Quoc International Airport in Kien Giang said the number of passengers passing through has sharply increased. On July 17, 22,000 visitors touched down on the island, a double increase over the same period last year.

Vietnam has banned entry by foreign nationals since March 22 with exceptions and conditions, including 14-day quarantining on arrival. Since March 25, all international flights have been suspended, except for special cases like repatriation flights.

Industry insiders said thanks to very efficient Covid-19 control, Vietnam's domestic tourism has been rapidly recovering. Domestic travel has boomed in summer in the absence of foreign arrivals, who normally account for roughly half of all tourist spending in the country.

Airlines have increased the frequency of many domestic routes. The number of passengers boarding domestic flights between July 13 and 20 reached 1.1 million, up 27 percent year-on-year, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam. During this period, the airlines conducted more than 5,900 flights, an increase of 21 percent year-on-year, achieving an average seating capacity of 90 percent.

The country of 96 million, which shares a long border with China, has reported 396 infections, of these 36 are active cases.

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