|A view of HCM City at night from the Saigon River is among short tours offered by many travel companies on the occasion of National Day.
This year, as there is only one day off, most holidaymakers have chosen short-term tours to nearby destinations without COVID-19 or to spots that have been announced safe from the pandemic.
Major travel agencies in Hanoi and HCM City have reported that despite the pandemic, they had seen an increase of bookings for tours to safe destinations.
The health sector and authorities of all levels are working together stamp out the COVID-19 pandemic in many places and this has created a number of "safe zones" for tourists to visit.
Communication and marketing director of the TST Tourist Company Nguyen Minh Man said a new trend of travelling has been created, focusing on destinations announced as safe from the pandemic on tours during the day in cars.
The health sector has laid out strict health regulations to ensure hygienic conditions for tourists.
Vehicles serving tourists must regularly spray disinfection chemicals and each vehicle of between 30 and 45 seats is only allowed to carry less than 20 and 30 passengers, respectively.
Tour operators have also been told to not sells tours to those who have passed through or come from high-risk areas and those with COVID-19 symptoms signs such as fever or cough.
Tourist agencies will prioritise clients with negative coronavirus test certificates.
Doan Thi Thanh Tra, a marketing and communication director of Saigontourist, said fewer people had booked tours for this year's National Day holiday compared to previous years due to the pandemic.
However, according to Tra, the holiday had created a chance for the tourism sector to restructure, reconnect business activities and revive the working spirit of their employees after a long stagnation, while also remind customers about their brand.
“On the other hand, the number of tourists booking tours at Saigontourist on September 2 shows the tourism market also has signs of prosperity. More and more units and families have started contacting the company for advice and even signed tour contracts to depart in October to safe destinations," said Tra.
"A majority of tourists have booked tours prioritising HCM City neighbouring provinces which have a high safety index for COVID-19 such as Da Lat, Phu Quoc, Con Dao, Long An, Tien Giang and Can Tho," Tra added.
A report from Vietravel revealed that for September 2 this year, the company had largely stopped accepting large groups of tourists to focus on family groups with basic services such as support for booking, buying tickets and car rental to destinations such as Phu Quoc and Vung Tau.
In addition, the report said their company is offering staycation packages to top hotels.
In Hanoi, most tourists chose to travel to places about 45-50km from the city such as Ba Vi in the outskirts of Hanoi, Tam Dao in the northern province of Vinh Phuc and Ha Long Bay in the coastal province of Quang Ninh.
Hoai Huong, a tourist from Hanoi, said as the holiday was only one day her family chose a tour to Tam Dao.
"The thing is that the COVID-19 pandemic is still complicated so we choose not to travel by trains or planes. We want to be in safe places near our home city," according to Huong.
In an effort to drum up business, travel agencies have designed a variety of short-term tours, with some companies even offering affordable prices for high standard services.
For example, Vietravel has offered stays at 4-5 star hotels in the city between VND1.3 million (US$56) and VND3.4 million (US$147) per night for two people, a discount of 50%-70%.
This type of product, according a company representative, was mainly for customers in the city or from neighbouring areas to enjoy luxurious services at affordable prices.
TST Tourist Company has launched short-term tour products, prioritising destinations near HCM City and in the city.
Currently, the tours offered by the company for 1-2 days cost from VND700,000 to about VND1.8 million per person. Over the past few days, the number of visitors who register for these tours has also increased significantly, the firm said.
Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, Deputy Director of HCM City’s Department of Tourism, said organising tours on September 2 is the first step for tourism agencies to restart the tourism market, boost their operations, improve revenue and create jobs, but they shouldn't have high expectations of a revenue boom because the pandemic has forced more than 90% of travel companies in the city to close.
"Businesses which have opened again should comply with regulations on spacing to ensure safety measures for tourists and staff," she said.