Vietnam’s tourism industry had been crushed by the lockdowns and movement restrictions in 2021. But the Year of the Tiger has given industry players new hope, especially after the unexpected surge in travel last week as Vietnamese spent quality time with their families during the long Tet holiday.
The ancient town of Hoi An in the province of Quang Nam drew about 5,000–10,000 visitors daily last week, according to Hoi An Center for Culture & Sports. Most of the guests came from within the province and the bordering towns of Da Nang or Hue.
Zest Villas & Spa in Hoi An, which opened on February 4, received an “exceptionally high” number of guests compared to last year’s Tet holiday, with more than 40–50 rooms occupied daily this holiday season. The hotel offered attractive packages for holidaymakers, with prices ranging from VND700,000 to VND2.5 million, including breakfast and transportation services.
“While international travel to Vietnam still has to rely on the reopening of international flights, there are really positive prospects for the recovery of domestic tourism,” a representative from the hotel told Vietcetera.
The island of Phu Quoc in Kien Giang also saw thousands of tourists during the holiday. According to estimates from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, at its peak from February 1 to 3, flights to Phu Quoc reached 60-62 trips per day, while the number of tourists coming into Kien Giang totaled 82,000 from January 29th to February 4th.
According to Hoang Thien Anh Tuan, owner at Tommie Phu Quoc Local Tours, the number of visitors to Phu Quoc jumped sharply from February 2 all the way to February 6, as travelers took advantage of their weekend off before returning to work. Transportation to the island, be it by bus or by boat, was fully booked a week before Tet, while the number of flights has almost returned to the pre-pandemic status of 70 flights a day.
But Tuan admitted that tourists coming to Phu Quoc didn’t get to enjoy the usual Tet activities organized by the island. Per government mandate, large gatherings including firework displays were not permitted during the Tet celebration.
Tuan instead offered private tours, where guests spent the day touring around the island, going diving or camping.
Looking towards the future of domestic tourism, Tuan believes it is the quality of the service offered that will encourage tourists to return to Phu Quoc. Additionally, priorities for locals to get their COVID-19 booster and the direct flights to Phu Quoc are also of great concern for travelers in the country.
On the south-central coast, the beach town of Nha Trang was packed with more than 65,000 tourists within 5 days from January 31 to February 4. Meanwhile, travelers to Binh Thuan province in the beginning of 2022 nearly tripled compared to the same period last year.
Local travel agencies and tour operators hope for travel to fully resume in the coming months. The Vietnamese government earlier announced a March 31 reopening for international travel, though no specific measures were made official yet. According to Resolution 128 on “safe and flexible adaptation and effective control over the COVID-19 pandemic” issued in late 2021, Vietnam will continue to exhaust efforts to combat the pandemic and develop the economy — including domestic and international tourism.