The latest outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic is putting pressure on Hanoi tour operators.

 Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc square around Hoan Kiem Lake. Photos: Nhat Minh

Pham Thanh Thuy, Deputy Director of Viet Bamboo Travel Corporation, told Hanoitimes that like many Hanoi-based tour operators, her corporation has been facing with massive cancelations for summer vacation tours amid the fourth wave of Covid-19. 

“Since late April, many customers have called my corporation to inquire on the pandemic situation and request to delay or cancel their trips to cities of Cantho and Phu Quoc,” Thuy said.

Nguyen Van Tai, Director of VietSense Travel, said many customers even canceled tours to pandemic-free destinations and requested a full refund of the deposit. 

Since the new outbreak began, up to 30% of hotel room bookings in the city have been canceled , according to the Hanoi Department of Tourism. “In the coming days, we expect more tour cancelation,” Dang Huong Giang, Director of the Hanoi Department of Tourism, told Hanoitimes.

Diverse options but safety is first 

Living in Nguyen Luong Bang street, Dong Da district, An Chi, a 32-year old mother, planned to take her children to Phu Quoc city in June but she wants to cancel the trip for fear of the outbreak. 

“However, according to the tour operator, the deposit worth VND10 million (US$434) will not be refunded if I cancels the tour. The best solution for me is to postpone the trip,” Chi said.

Though sharing with customers like Chi, Pham Tien Dung, Director of Golden Tour, Hoan Kiem district, said that the cancelation of the tour puts travel companies in uncomfortable positions. 

He said it is hard for the tour operators to cancel travel services in pandemic-free locations while the deposit amount has already been wired to its partners, including hotels and air carriers.

“The aviation industry stipulates that if the pandemic causes flight suspension, it will take at least two months to return the advance payment for air tickets, even some airlines only refund in form of vouchers. Meanwhile, customers just want to get cash refund,” Dung said.

Trinh Thi My Nghe, Vice Chairman of the Hanoi Travel and Tourism Association, suggested that tourists should put off their tour until Covid-19 being well controlled, instead of canceling it. 

Facing the fourth wave of Covid-19, a representative from Fiditour Travel in Hanoi branch, said they are updating the situation to set up suitable plans. “We surveyed the sites carefully and collaborated with accommodation facilities to ensure that all preventive measures are followed,” she said.

At Flamingo Redtours Tourism JSC, many tours booked for this month have been postponed. The company has actively contacted guests and offered options including postpone, changing the tour destination and even cancelation.

“With such the options, safety for guests is first,” said Nguyen Cong Hoan, General Director of Flamingo Redtours.

Facing the serious evolution of the pandemic, the Hanoi Tourism Association has recommended the businesses to propose problems about air tickets, hotels, and destinations. On that basis, the association will send documents to relevant agencies and organizations for timely handling the issues.