Why do tourists keep traveling during national holidays despite overcrowding and poor services?

By Linh Huong, Bich Phuong   May 8, 2024 | 10:00 pm PT
​With limited annual leave, Vietnamese people have no other choices except for jostling each other at tourist spots during short breaks, regardless of inadequate services and overcrowding.

Knowing most tourist destinations are overcrowded and prices of services will be pushed up, Minh Duc's family from Hanoi still travel together during Tet or Reunification Day and Labor Day holidays because they have no other options.

"Our family had to wait for over three hours to board a ferry to Cat Ba Island (Hai Phong City). On another occasion, we had a holiday in Sa Pa and despite booking a table in advance, we still had to wait over an hour for food," Duc said.

"My whole family wants to travel together as my kids get a break from school, and we don't have to take long leaves from work."

The whole country experiences a severe heat wave during the five-day Reunification Day holiday between April 27 and May 1, making travel even more difficult.

"I left HCMC on April 27, and it was a mistake," said Ba Phong, a tourist from Ho Chi Minh City.

Vo Nguyen Giap Street and An Phu intersection leading to the HCMC - Long Thanh - Dau Giay expressway was congested from morning to evening.

"Under the scorching sun, it was a nightmare," Phong said.

Nha Trang beach on April 30. Photo: Bui Toan

Nha Trang beach is crowded with holiday-goers on April 30, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/ Bui Toan

Insiders commented that despite overcrowded scenes and poor quality of services, Vietnamese people still travel during public holidays because Vietnam has too few long holidays - 11 in total.

Vietnam has the least number of public holidays compared to other Southeast Asian countries while the amount of paid annual leave in the country is also lower.

Tran Tuong Huy, vice president of the Institute for Social Tourism Research, said the habit of traveling during public holidays among Vietnamese comes from the fact that workers have only 12 paid leave days a year.

In Europe, workers have about a month of leave per year while in some other countries laborers could enjoy paid leave of 20-22 days, making it easier to allocate time for travel.

Therefore, the majority of Vietnamese take advantage of public holidays like the Gregorian New Year, Lunar New Year, Reunification Day holiday and National Day to travel.

Huy said a surge in the number of tourists during the holidays was a positive sign for the tourism industry, but the travel fever could affect service quality such as overcrowded attractions, cause traffic jams and trigger tourist scams.

Such crowded holidays like the recent Reunification Day holiday only have a temporary and local impact on certain areas and do not accurately reflect the nature of the tourism industry, experts said.

From a tourist's perspective, Minh Huyen in Hanoi said it was not necessary to travel during the holidays.

"Instead of having to squeeze in crowds, endure traffic jams and heat, we should stay at home and relax very comfortably, enjoying ourselves in our own way," she said.

According to experts, localities should distribute tourists between seasons of the year to avoid overcrowding on one to two holidays. To do this, it is necessary to have a more effective marketing strategy with promotional programs throughout the year.

Increasing annual leave is also a solution for Vietnamese tourists to have more time to travel, without having to wait for public holidays, they said.

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