Making news

"Free & easy" tours to thrive in 2021

More independent trips, "free & easy" tours and guided small group tours will be high on travellers' agendas for 2021, the HCM City Department of Tourism has said.

Staycations and luxury leisure vacations are also popular this year, the department said in a report. Short-distance itineraries to the southeastern region and Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, following health and safety protocols, are favoured by travellers.

Independent trips, including self-drive itineraries located near the city such as Vung Tau, Da Lat and Phan Thiet, saw a rise in visitors during the Tet holiday.

Lai Minh Duy, general director of TST Tourist, said domestic tours could be customised for each group or family, with socially-distanced and mask-wearing guidelines.

Many Tet tours had been delayed until the Reunification Day holiday on April 30, when COVID-19 outbreaks were expected to be contained by that time, Duy said.

Travellers scrambled to cancel trips and get refunds for tours during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday due to COVID-19 outbreaks in late January, just a few days ahead of Tet.

Around 500 customers cancelled Tet tours worth a total of 6 billion VND (260,400 USD) at leading travel firms in the city. Most of them required full refunds and refused to delay trips, firms said.

Travel demand during Tet was nearly at a standstill. During the holiday, popular tourist and entertainment sites in the city such as Dam Sen Park, Suoi Tien Theme Park, Van Thanh and Binh Quoi tourist sites were closed to contain the spread of the virus.

Hotels in HCM City are now operating at occupancy rates of less than 10 percent, according to the department. Many hotels prepared special F&B programmes and offered promotions to meet rising demand during the Tet season but were then affected by the new outbreaks.

As many as 29 hotels with a total of 2,053 rooms have been approved to serve as hotel quarantine areas, and four more, with a total of more than 440 rooms, are waiting for approval from city authorities./