A middle-aged Vietnamese woman gazes at pop-ups on her laptop advertising outbound tours during Tet, Vietnam’s New Year festival, which falls in mid-February following the lunar calendar like Chinese Lunar New Year.
She is one of many Vietnamese who are planning to run away from mundane choirs to exotic destinations for the country’s most important annual holiday.
Many outbound tours during Tet, including those to China, are almost fully booked, because more and more Vietnamese visitors are opting for international destinations to celebrate the holiday, leading local travel agencies said on Friday.
“Our weeklong tour to Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou starting on Lunar New Year’s Eve [February 15] has only four berths for booking,” the Viet Media Travel Corporation told Xinhua on Friday, noting that the price of the tour is 22 million Vietnamese dong ($973).
Viet Media Travel is also offering a four-day tour to Beijing departing from Ho Chi Minh City on February 14 (two days before Tet) at a price of 12 million dong. A similar tour to Beijing hosted by the corporation, but starting on February 13, is already fully booked.
“Regarding Beijing, many Vietnamese people, both young and old, like to visit, climb and walk along the Great Wall, witness the traditional architecture and antiques in the Forbidden City and enjoy eating and shopping at Wangfujing,” the corporation said.
Tours to China offered by other local travel agencies are also selling like hot cakes. Some agencies even said that if Vietnamese, Chinese and other foreign airlines had more flights to China, they would offer more China-bound tours.
“Depending on the availability of flights to China, we will offer tours to farther destinations in March or April,” Gia Linh, a salesperson from the Fiditour Joint Stock Company, a Vietnamese tour operating company, told Xinhua on Friday. She added that tours to nearby destinations are already fully booked.
Vietnam will launch more direct air routes to Chinese cities, including Southwest China’s Chongqing, Dalian in Northeast China’s Liaoning Province, Haikou in South China’s Hainan Province and Wuhan in Central China’s Hubei Province, by 2020, according to a scheme dedicated to developing direct air routes between Vietnam and key countries and regions of the world. The scheme was recently approved by the Vietnamese government.
China Eastern Airlines, which operates more than 20 direct routes between China and Vietnam with 60 regular flights a week, is currently focusing on routes between Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City and East China’s Shanghai as well as Kunming in Southwest China’s Yunnan Province.
There are also regular routes between Vietnam’s central Da Nang City and Kunming and Beijing, as well as between Vietnam’s capital Hanoi and Kunming, said the airlines’ representative in Vietnam.
Fiditour said it expected a 30 percent rise in the number of bookings for Tet tours this year, including inbound and outbound ones.
So far, bookings have taken up 75 percent of its tours planned for Vietnamese New Year.
Another Vietnamese tourism company, Vietravel, said it had sold 65 percent of its outbound tours and 55 percent of its domestic tours for Tet.
This year, Vietravel is organizing outbound tours via charter flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Ningbo in East China’s Zhejiang Province, Thailand’s Phuket and Chiang Mai, and Japan’s Fukushima. According to many Vietnamese people, they will opt for international tours for the upcoming Tet holiday instead of staying at home, as traditionally done throughout the past.
“Tet is a great occasion for families to get together and for visiting relatives. But the whole family can spend time together at a tourist attraction and enjoy exotic landscapes and food there, while avoiding anything humdrum,” said Phi Thi Nguyet, who works at the call center of Hanoi-based My Dinh Taxi Company.
“With a limited budget, during this Tet, my family can afford a tour to Thailand or Cambodia. If our company offers us a big Tet bonus, we will book a tour to China because we admire the beauty of Chinese architecture and arts,” she smiled.
According to statistics from the Vietnam Tourism Association, 6.5 million Vietnamese people toured overseas in 2016, up 15 percent compared to 2015, and spent $7-8 billion there. Their favorite destinations included China, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea and Japan.
In recent years, long-haul tours to Europe, the US and Australia have also been luring more and more Vietnamese visitors.
Newspaper headline: New Year in Paradise
Source: Xinhua – Global Times