Aviation, tourism ready for return of Chinese tour groups
Vietnamese carriers and travel firms say they are ready to welcome back Chinese tour groups after three years of interruption due to Covid travel restrictions.
Pham Ngoc Thuy, director of Quang Ninh’s Department of Tourism, said everything has been well prepared and tourism businesses are ready to receive Chinese tourists after such a long pause.
A representative of Muong Thanh Hotel, which welcomed about 40% of Chinese tourists before the pandemic, said the absence of Chinese visitors for the past three years has resulted in a falling room occupancy rate.
“China’s decision to send its citizens to Vietnam beginning March 15 is a big opportunity for the tourism and hospitality industries,” the representative said.
Dinh Quang Tho, director of Muong Thanh Luxury Hotel, said his hotel has increased training for staff to better serve Chinese tourists.
Vu Huong Giang, chairwoman of the 5328 Mong Cai Travel Club, which is home to travel agencies specializing in Chinese tourists, said that it is ready to welcome back Chinese visitors “at any time” with hundreds of available hotel rooms.
In 2019, Quang Ninh Province which borders China received 1.5 million Chinese visitors, accounting for 30% of arrivals from the world’s largest outbound travel market.
In Khanh Hoa, home to the popular beach town Nha Trang, hotel operators have repaired rooms and upgraded all services to await the return of this traditional tourist market.
Vo Quang Hoang, chairman of the Khanh Hoa Hotel Association, said Khanh Hoa currently has more than 1,100 hotels. Of which, there are over 100 three-to-five-star hotels with about 20,000 rooms.
Due to the low number of foreign tourists post reopening, some hotels still closed while waiting for the return of Chinese, Hoang added.
Tourism businesses in Nha Trang expects the number of Chinese tourists arriving in the beach town to recover from the second quarter of this year.
In 2019, Khanh Hoa welcomed 3.5 million foreign tourists, 70% of them from China.
Cao Tri Dung, chairman of the Da Nang Tourism Association, said tourism businesses in Vietnam’s central tourist city were eagerly awaiting China’s decision to resume outbound group tours to Vietnam beginning March 15.
Da Nang received 900,000 Chinese tourists in 2019 and expects this year’s figure will rise to one third of pre-pandemic levels to around 300,000.
Nguyen Le Binh, a representative from Guangxi Overseas Travel Company in China’s Guangxi Province, said after China agreed to resume tourism with Vietnam, many Chinese tourists had contacted her company to ask for information about visa policies and tour programs.
Chinese visitors are interested in returning to Ha Long Bay, Ha Noi and Nha Trang, Binh added.
The aviation industry is also looking forward to the return of Chinese tourists.
Vietnam Airlines said the carrier has prepared resources to meet the travel demands of Chinese tourists after the Chinese government decided to resume group tours to Vietnam.
The carrier expects to resume more routes between the two countries in the coming months as tourism recovers.
“The airline hopes authorities will continue relaxing procedures for Chinese tourists to promote the aviation and tourism sectors between the two countries in the near future,” a Vietnam Airlines spokesman said.
In 2019, the year before the onset of the pandemic, 11 Chinese and three Vietnamese airlines carried nearly eight million passengers between the two countries each year, with the latter accounting for 4.6 million.
China was Vietnam’s biggest source of foreign tourists with 5.5 million arrivals in 2019.
HSBC forecast Vietnam could receive three to 4.5 million visitors from China this year, equivalent to 50%-80% of pre-pandemic levels.