Mekong Delta, southern islands are new domestic tourism hotspots

By Nguyen Nam   March 10, 2020 | 12:29 am PT
Mekong Delta, southern islands are new domestic tourism hotspots
People trade goods at the Cai Rang floating market on the Hau River. Photo by Shutterstock/Banana Republic Images.
The Mekong Delta and southern islands like Phu Quoc and Con Dao are dominating domestic tour bookings as Covid-19 cases rise elsewhere in Vietnam.

Companies specializing in domestic tourism say about 70 percent of their customers are opting for Mekong Delta tours, most of which depart from Ho Chi Minh City.

Le Hoa Hiep, director of the Hi Travel Company, said the distance between the Mekong Delta and HCMC was not much, making it convenient for three-day-two-night tours.

The Mekong Delta boasts many orchards, gardens, rich culture and numerous comfortable resorts. It has also not reported any coronavirus infection so far.

"To further stimulate demand, Hi Travel is collaborating with other partners who provide transport and accommodation to launch the Mekong Delta tour bundle at 40 to 60 percent discounts, depending on the departure location," Hiep said.

Uyen, a domestic tourist, who’d just picked a Mekong Delta tour, said: "The destinations in the southern tours are quite attractive, not too crowded and the air is clean, and the schedule is convenient, too."

Southern islands like Phu Quoc and Con Dao have also become appealing destinations. A typical tour lasts four days and three nights if customers travel by air.

Tours to the Central Highlands are also popular, but they are less attractive than the Mekong Delta and southern islands, according to travel firms.

Tran Bao Thu, a spokesperson for Fiditour Travel, said in addition to the Mekong Delta tours, her company takes tourists to south central provinces like Binh Dinh and Phu Yen.

Binh Dinh and Phu Yen have not recorded any novel coronavirus cases, while infections have been confirmed in other central localities like Hue, Quang Nam and Da Nang.

"These tours are part of a program to stimulate the domestic tourism market, so there are many preferential policies giving discounts of up to 40 percent," Thu said.

The spokesperson of a Hanoi travel firm said that about 150 guests have booked a 4-day-3-night tour this month that covers the central town of Quy Nhon (Binh Dinh Province), Tuy Hoa (a town of Phu Yen) and the Central Highlands towns of Buon Ma Thuot (Dak Lak Province) and Pleiku (Gia Lai Province). This is part of a series of tours designed to stimulate domestic travel demand with preferential prices, he said.

Huynh Phan Phuong Hoang, deputy general director of Vietravel, said all tours that the company is packaging these days involve places that have not been hit by the coronavirus or those that have controlled the epidemic and have not reported any new infections since.

Tran Huu Phuoc, director of THP Travel, which specializes in Vietnam - Thailand - Cambodia - Laos tour, said that at the time before the outbreak occurred his company had two groups a week (about 30 customers). However, in February, the company only had about 20 customers. 

According to Nguyen Duc Hiep, general director of Viettourist, tours to Northeast Asia market (China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea and South Korea) are "completely" frozen. "Only 25 to 30 percent of tours to Thailand and Cambodia have been sold despite the launch of discount programs," Hiep said.

At a large company in HCMC, almost 200 people booked domestic tours last Thursday, while only 20 opted for international tours.

The novel coronavirus epidemic slashed $7 billion off Vietnam’s tourism revenue in January-February, or about 22 percent of last year’s figure, Government Office chief Mai Tien Dung said at a meeting last Tuesday.

Vietnam has recorded 16 Covid-19 cases since last Friday after going 22 days without any new infection.

Of the six Vietnamese patients, four are under treatment in Hanoi, one in Ninh Binh Province and one in HCMC, who is the nation's 32nd patient, the latest.

The ten foreign patients have been quarantined and are undergoing treatment in the northern provinces of Quang Ninh and Lao Cai as well as the central localities of Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Nam and Da Nang.

The Covid-19 outbreak has thus far spread to 113 countries and territories around the world, killing over 4,000.

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