|Phu Quoc island on Kien Giang province is still attracting many visitors amid the COVID-19 epidemic (Photo courtesy of nld.com.vn)
The number of Russian visitors to Vietnam last month reached 19,000, according to Hoang Thi Phong Thu, chairwoman of the board of Pegas Misr Travel Vietnam.
In January, more than 18,540 Russian tourists visited Vietnam, up 27.3 percent year-on-year, and about 10,000 Russian guests have made travel bookings and reserved essential tourism services for April, May and June.
The international tourist group Pegas Touristik Russia is expected to welcome 184,000 Russian tourists to Vietnam this year, Thu said.
Vietnam Airlines has collaborated with the Vinpearl hotel system on a promotion for Russian visitors, which takes effect this month.
About eight flights between Vietnam and Russia have been scheduled weekly, connecting Moscow, Vladivostok, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg to Nha Trang and Phu Quoc Island.
Meanwhile, Saigontourist Group has begun its first stimulus programme this year, starting from March to the end of May.
According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, the total number of international visitors in February was 1.24 million, down 37.7 percent compared to the previous month and 21.8 percent year-on-year.
Due to concern over the flu-like epidemic, few tourists from China, Singapore and the Republic of Korea did not travel to Vietnam.
The occupancy rate of hotels across various tourist attractions from the north to the south decreased by 20 to 50 percent year-on-year.
However, the US has removed Vietnam from the list of countries with a high chance of spreading the disease, which is a positive sign for the tourism industry.
To promote Vietnam’s safe environment, multiple travel agencies have uploaded videos and images of the country to their social media platforms.
Most importantly, the Tourism Department plans to carry out an international tourism campaign between April and December this year, with “VietnamNOW” as the main message.
Nguyen Ngoc Toan, director of the Images Travel Company, stressed the importance of restructuring the tourism market and understanding audiences’ tastes to create meaningful products.
Tran The Dung, deputy director of The He Tre Tourism Company, said that thanks to timely stimulus polices in HCM City and provinces, "local tourists have been paying more attention to domestic tours".
Vietnam Airlines has offered discounted tickets across 18 domestic routes to local tour operators, while Saigon Railway Transportation Joint Stock Company has reduced its ticket prices from 70 to 90 percent.
Vietnam is expected to fully recover after three to four months if the epidemic is under control, according to authorities.
Many provinces are also trying to create more favourable conditions for travel agencies to thrive.
Meanwhile, favourable weather and better control of the epidemic has encouraged provinces in the Mekong Delta to carry out many tourism activities, particularly on Phu Quoc island in Kien Giang province.
With its beautiful, sunny weather, destinations such as Nam Du, Tho Chau, Phu Quoc and Hai Tac in Kien Giang province have received an increasing number of visitors, according to Tran Chi Dung, director of the provincial Department of Tourism.
Nguyen Khanh Hiep, director of An Giang province's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said that travel agencies had tightened hygiene and disease prevention practices against COVID-19 and the quality of human resources had also improved.
In Can Tho, the city Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has sent a letter to its tourism partners, saying that Can Tho is a safe, friendly and quality travel destination, with all tourism spots open to welcome visitors.
Le Minh Tung, deputy head of the Management Board of Mui Ca Mau National Tourist Area, said that all officials and staff in the area have "strictly followed official guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19".
‘Everyone has been wearing masks, using hand sanitisers frequently, and staying alert and informed about the epidemic,” he said.
In an effort to boost domestic tourism, similar practices have been seen in Dong Thap province.