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Vietnam tour guides cash in as summer travel booms

By Ha Trang, Bui Toan   August 21, 2022 | 04:43 pm PT
Vietnam tour guides cash in as summer travel booms
A tour guide (front) takes her tourists to visit the Thang Long Imperial Citadel in Hanoi, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Trung Nghia
Tour guides specializing in serving domestic tourists have been enjoying a lucrative summer after losing more than two years of work to the Covid pandemic.

Le Doan Ngoc Thi, director of HCMC-based Viet Guide Company, said each tour guide in his company received six to eight groups of tourists in June and July, peak months of the summer travel season.

Each group consisted of 15 to 45 people and they mainly visited coastal resort towns like Vung Tau, Phan Thiet and Nha Trang, Thi said.

The tour guides' monthly income during this summer has ranged from VND25-30 million ($1,068-1,281) per person, equivalent to pre-pandemic levels, Thi said.

Nguyen Xuan Dong, a freelance tour guide who works mainly on island tours in the beach town of Nha Trang, said he was happy that the number of his tour bookings increased sharply this summer.

"The number of customers booking my tours to Nha Trang islands reached more than 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels and I was able to earn a monthly income of VND30 million this summer," Dong said.

Before the pandemic, he would earn around VND35-40 million a month during the summer season.

"After losing my income for more than two years because of the Covid pandemic, I feel satisfied with what I have now and hope the tourism industry will quickly recover to pre-pandemic levels."

Le Thanh Duoc in HCMC has had to work non-stop over the past two months, waking up at 2-3 a.m. to pick up customers at the Tan Son Nhat Airport and only returning home at midnight.

Duoc said most tour guides are now paid VND500,000-700,000 a day for each group, excluding other allowances.

Representatives of some travel companies have also confirmed that in the past two months, the monthly income of experienced tour guides was around VND25-30 million.

A representative of Hanoi-based tour operator Hanoitourist said the average monthly income of tour guides in the company has exceeded pre-pandemic levels by 15 percent this summer.

However, the picture remains gloomy for tour guides who specialize in serving inbound tourists as the number of foreign visitors visiting Vietnam after the March 15 reopening remains low.

In the first seven months this year, Vietnam received 733,000 foreign arrivals, just 15 percent of this year’s target.

Some tour guides who used to focus on Chinese and Russian markets are switching to other jobs to make ends meet as China continues to maintain its zero-Covid policy and related restrictions, while international flights to Russia have been suspended due to the war against Ukraine.

According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, there were 31,000 licensed tour guides in Vietnam before Covid-19 hit the country in 2020, earning monthly incomes of VND10-40 million.

After the pandemic hit, many of them switched to other jobs.

Tourist destinations across Vietnam attracted over 23 million domestic tourists in the last two months, or over two thirds of the total number in the first six months of the year.

There were 60.8 million domestic tourists in the first half, exceeding the 60 million target set for the whole year.

 
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