Tour operators nervous ahead of New Year holiday

There has never been a time previously when travel agencies felt as anxious about the prospects of the domestic tourism industry during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday (Tet) as this year,


largely due to the threat of the coronavirus still lingering as we move into 2021.

Travel agencies are launching promotions to lure holidaymakers in the lead up to the New Year holiday. In the photo, visitors are making a tour of a tourist destination in Da Nang, central Vietnam. 

Travel agencies are launching promotions to lure holidaymakers in the lead up to the New Year holiday. In the photo, visitors are making a tour of a tourist destination in Da Nang, central Vietnam. 

Typically, December usually sees travel agencies busy marketing hundreds of tours for the Tet period. However, this year’s tourism market is shrinking considerably both locally and globally as a result of the resurgence of COVID-19, a factor which has caused holidaymakers to change their minds about travelling and forced airlines to suspend outbound tours.

Booking numbers falling

Representatives of travel firms based in Ho Chi Minh City, the nation’s most populated city, stated that they received a host of bookings before four locally transmitted COVID-19 cases were detected a few of weeks ago. It was these latest cases in the southern city which led to the purchasing of tours to come to a grinding halt.

“A month ago, many travel firms launched Tet tours of the northern region because local visitors prefer travelling to the north to enjoy the chilly atmosphere during wintertime,” Pham Quy Huy, director of Kiwi Travel, told Nguoi Lao Dong (Labourer) newspaper. “The recent detection of the virus in the community caused customers to think twice before making a decision.”

Adding to this point of view, Tran Thanh Vu, managing director of Vinagroup Travel, admitted that, “2020 is a very difficult year for the tourism industry.” Indeed, Vu went on to note that holidaymakers remain hesitant when it comes to booking tours, with many keeping a close eye on COVID-19 developments.

As a result of the detection of four COVID-19 cases in Ho Chi Minh City in late November and early December, domestic travel firms have been put in a tough situation. However, with the virus being successfully brought under control in just a few days, travel firms are now expecting the number of tour bookings to increase over the coming days.

“The number of holidaymakers booking tours through Vietravel is increasing these days, and we hope to serve approximately 35,000 visitors during this Tet, up 135% compared to the previous Tet season,” said Nguyen Nguyet Van Khanh, vice director of the Marketing Department of Vietravel, one of the country’s leading tour operators.


Enjoying a larger slice of the national market

Tran Thi Bao Thu, marketing and communications director of Fiditour-Vietluxtour, outlined how the COVID-19 pandemic has heavily impacted the entire structure of the domestic tourism market, making local tours become key products whilst changing business plans in relation to epidemic developments.

“The tourism market during the upcoming Tet holiday is expected to rally compared to the previous quarters of the year,” explained Thu.

“However, safety is the priority factor for holidaymakers when they decide to spend on tours, and given the current context it is very difficult to compare with previous Tet seasons in terms of the recovery of the market, the number of visitors and revenue.”

With outbound tours suspended due to the impact of COVID-19, insiders believe travel firms are focusing on tours to local destinations in order to get the lion’s share of the market. Alongside factors relating to safety, tour operators are launching a range of diverse and promotional tours.

As each travel agency has its own marketing strategy to lure potential holidaymakers, the domestic tourism market in the buildup to Tet is set to become very competitive, they said.

In an attempt to provide a boost for the local tourism market, many cities and provinces have teamed up to offer tours of regions, as opposed to separate localities. Travel operators said new tour routes are now being marketed, attracting large numbers of holidaymakers. VOV