Vietnam News Update (Dec. 27): Top Choice for French Tourists

Vietnam News Today (Dec. 27): Vietnam emerges as a prime choice for French tourists, according to a French daily. In efforts to enhance exports of agricultural products to China, local businesses will now have to adhere to stricter regulations. Biometric authentication remains in place for air passengers. Freezing temperatures have resulted in hoar frost blanketing Fansipan peak.

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Vietnam News Today (Dec. 27) notable headlines

Vietnam a leading destination for French visitors: French daily

Stricter rules for local businesses to boost farm produce to China

Biometric authentication continues to be applied for air passengers

Hoar frost covers Fansipan peak as temperatures plunge to below zero

Vietnamese tend to travel abroad on New Year holiday

Vietnam a bright spot in global panorama

Expanded diplomacy 2023 deepens Vietnamese bilateral and multilateral relations

Gold prices hit nearly VND80 million per tael

Vietnamese, Japanese Communist Party officials hold talks

Phu Quoc is among top destinations in Vietnam. (Photo: VNA)

Vietnam a leading destination for French visitors: French daily

Despite belt tightening as a result of the gloomy global economic situation, the French could not give up their travel temptation. Vietnam, along with Japan and Thailand, was the top choice for French vacationers during the Christmas holiday, according to French daily Le Figaro.

Le Figaro quoted president of travel firms association Valérie Boned as saying that although costs are high, the French want to go somewhere to celebrate their holiday; however, they gave a more careful consideration to the tours.

The rise of Asia, and increasing geopolitical tensions and inflation rates in Europe and the Middle East have resulted in the change of the French’s travel map, cited VNA.

Asia’s tourism industry bounced back strongly this year, said Guillaume Linton, Director General of Asia Voyage– a leading tour operator in Asia-Pacific, adding that Vietnam, Japan and Thailand’s tourism markets were on a good recovery in 2023 as they recorded higher revenue than four years ago.

While the Middle East is experiencing mounting geopolitical tension, Asia has become a safe destination for travelers, he said.

Although prices surged from 25-30%, there was an increasing number of French registering for tours to Asia, he elaborated.

Last month, Vietnam’s tourism potential and opportunities were spotlighted at a seminar held at the Vietnamese Cultural Center in Paris.

Stricter rules for local businesses to boost farm produce to China

Local businesses have exerted great efforts to meet the high standards set by Chinese importers as part of efforts to boost agricultural products to the highly lucrative market, according to industry insiders.

Tran Van Ut, director of a seafood import-export company based in Mong Cai city in the northern province of Quang Ninh, revealed that the firm has proactively deployed the planning of raw material areas in order to meet China’s stricter regulations on packaging, logistic services, and preservation to make further inroads into the demanding market.

The company has three products which have been exclusively exported to the Chinese market, including Ben Tre white clams, flower clams, and paper clams, he added.

The company is currently co-operating alongside Chinese partners which are allowed to import exclusively in the northern neighbor to bring more local products to the market, thereby raising higher revenue for the firm, according to VOV.

Photo: VOV

According to Quan Hue Van, director of Duc Vu Logistics Co., Ltd. in Dongxing city, despite huge potential, Vietnamese farm produce and aquatic products have not yet penetrated deeply into the Chinese market as businesses have not linked to major corporations, modern distribution channels, or online networks, as well as big supermarkets in China.

Van emphasized that there is ample room for Vietnamese farm produce in China, adding that the company has paid close attention to farming areas and meet stringent requirements set in terms of packaging, origin traceability, and other rules as a means of further boosting exports to the fastidious market.

Recently, three types of products, namely frozen seafood, aquatic animals used for food, and some types of plant varieties, have just been approved by the Chinese quarantine agency to enter China through Bac Luan II Bridge.

The move has opened up plenty of opportunities for Vietnamese businesses to gain entry to the market, as well as other countries around the world.

Biometric authentication continues to be applied for air passengers

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) on December 25 issued a written report to the Ministry of Transport asking for its approval of the Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV)’s proposal to continue applying biometric authentication for air passengers.

To be authenticated biometrically, air passengers need to have a chip-based citizen identification card and a PNR (Passenger Name Record) reservation code, and agree to share personal data and facial recognition information.

Meanwhile, check-in counters need to be equipped with chip-based ID card readers and facial recognition devices, VNA reported.

Passengers use biometric authentication application when checking in at Noi Bai International Airport (Photo: VNA)

In the first quarter of 2024, the ACV will complete the investment, equipment, ID card application software solutions and full-process biometric authentication technology at Phu Bai and Cat Bi international airports in central Thua Thien-Hue province and northern Hai Phong city, and Dien Bien airport in the northern mountainous province of the same name.

Hoar frost covers Fansipan peak as temperatures plunge to below zero

Mount Fansipan, Vietnam’s highest peak in the northern province of Lao Cai, was left hoar frost-covered on December 26 as local temperatures dropped to minus three degrees Celsius due to the effect of a strong cold wave.

According to local residents, the early morning period saw hoar frost form a layer of thin ice covering the cliffs, paths, stone steps, and wooden floors, thereby creating a picturesque scene.

This marks the fifth hoar frost observed on Mount Fansipan since the start of the cold season this year, cited VOV.

Hoar frost covers Fansipan peak (Photo: Tien Phong)

Temperatures at the peak of Fansipan are predicted to remain low over the next day, resulting in more frost.

The authorities of Lao Cai have warned that the appearance of hoar frost will pose health risks for people, crops, and animals. Local residents are therefore advised to take measures against the weather phenomenon.

Vietnamese tend to travel abroad on New Year holiday

Traveling abroad during the New Year and Tet holiday is a growing trend in Vietnam. However, instead of booking tours many months in advance, Vietnamese close deals just days before departure time.

Nearly all tours to Japan of Dream Travel for 2024 New Year and Tet holidays have been booked. There are only some seats available for tours with departure on the fourth day of Tet.

Known as a travel firm providing high-quality tours specifically designed for customers. Dream Travel will serve six groups of tourists this Tet, with 25-30 travelers for each group. The tour fee is VND32-38 million per traveler.

“Most tourists like to go to Tokyo, Mount Fuji and ski in Fujiten and Osaka, and see early cherry blossoms on Lunar New Year. Some clients have contacted us and asked about tours to Japan to see cherry blossoms in April 2024. To date, we have sold 20 percent of planned tours,” said Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa, Deputy CEO of Dream Travel.

The reports from other travel firms also show that going abroad on the 2024 New Year is the choice of many Vietnamese travelers. Northeast Asian markets, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China, plus destinations such as Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia and Bali are the favorite destinations for Vietnamese.

In addition, many travelers book tours to Europe, Australia and the US.

According to Tran Thi Bao Thu from Vietluxtour, the Tet tours to markets farther away have been fully booked. There will be six group tours to Japan with departure time on February 9-13, or from the last day of the Year of the Cat to the fourth day of the New Year of the Dragon have been closed. As for solo tourists, 55-60 percent of them choose to travel abroad.

Meanwhile, Bui Thanh Tu, marketing director of Best Price, reported that the total number of his clients increases on 2024 New Year holiday, while outbound tours increase by eight times compared with last year, equal to 75 percent of the amount of outbound tourists before the Covid-19 pandemic (2019). Most clients choose mid- and high-end tours to Japan, South Korea and Australia.

As for the Chinese market, Pham Minh Tu, General Director of Indochina Holidays Travel, said the new tours traveling by land, with reasonable costs (under VND10 million) attract customers, like the ones to Jiuzhaigou County, and to Kunming to see snowfall, while popular tours like the ones to Phoenix Ancient Town, Lijiang, Beijing and Shanghai still cannot attract many travelers because of economic difficulties.

“Last April, when China began reopening its tourism market, we witnessed a boom of tours to Phoenix Ancient Town by land. But the number of bookings is small this year. Only a few travelers have booked tours for Lunar New Year,” Tu said.

Regarding tour fees, travel firms said the fees have moved up slightly, by 5-15 percent, VNN reported.

Photo: VNN

New travel trends

Talking about Tet tours, Thu commented that MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) tours and tours specifically designed to certain groups of travelers to Phu Yen, Da Nang and Nha Trang have been selling well.

The special feature of domestic tours is that Vietnamese travelers only book tours just days before departure time. Therefore, her travel firm plans to sell tours throughout Tet days.

According to Tu, in the north, travelers tend to choose tours to ‘hunt’ for snow in Sa Pa, or they want to go to Ha Giang and Ninh Binh by land. Meanwhile, travelers from HCM City favor Da Lat, Phan Thiet and Vung Tau. But in general, the number of domestic travelers is not high.

Explaining this, Tu said the New Year holiday is short, just lasting three days. Meanwhile, people are tightening their purse strings and only spending money on essentials. Also, airfares are unexpectedly high.

According to Best Price, the airfare for flights from Hanoi to Phu Quoc on 2024 New Year (December 29 – January 1) is VND7 million on average, while the figure is VND3.87 million for HCM City – Phu Quoc flights.

The airfare for Hanoi-Da Lat has also increased by 1.4 times compared with two weeks before, while the figure is 1.9 times for HCM City – Da Lat compared with early this month

The high domestic airfares have prompted many travelers to change their mind and book outbound tours, which always have stable prices.

Tu noted that travelers now tend to book tours just days before the departure time. The trend began during the last April-May holiday and is becoming more common.

Rosie Nguyen