Tours to Singapore combining sightseeing with watching sports

More local fans have combined sightseeing with watching games at major sports events held in other countries and boosting participating Vietnamese athletes’ morale over the last few years.

The Vietnamese team crushed their Malaysian opponents 5-1 on  June 2 last week in a tense Group B match of the under-23 men’s football (soccer) category at the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore.

According to Vietnamese travel firms, since right after the resounding triumph, considerably more tours to Singapore have been purchased.

Tour buyers can sit back comfortably in the stadium, enjoy the games and shout encouragement at the Vietnamese team or their favorite players.

They will also be guided around Singapore’s places of interest when there is not a game scheduled.

According to Tran Thi Viet Huong, deputy head of the Marketing Department at Vietravel, a major local travel firm, almost 300 tour customers have gone to Singapore to attend today’s match between the Vietnamese team and their archivals Thailand, which is slated to take place at 7:30 pm.

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The company has also received an increasing number of bookings for the semifinals on June 13.

The tour costs vary between VND11 million (US$505) and VND13 million (US$597) per person, Huong added.

Le Cong Nang, of Vietrantour, another Vietnamese tour operator, said his company currently offers three-day tours to Singapore for sightseeing and game watching.

The tours cost VND9.99 million (US$459), around VND1 million less than similar packages available on the market.

Over the past several years, an increasing number of local sports buffs have purchased tours to major events where Vietnamese male and female football players showcase their skills.

Travel firms have wasted no time tapping into the surging demand and offering tours which satisfy their clients’ needs.

Vietravel, one of Ho Chi Minh City’s large tour providers, was the first to offer such tours, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.

They brought the first batch of tourists to the 18th SEA Games, which took place in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 1995. 

The company has since not missed any opportunity at the recent annual or biennial editions of such notable sports events as the SEA Games; the AFF Suzuki Cup, organized by the ASEAN Football Federation and contested by the national teams of Southeast Asia; and the Asian Games (Asiad).

Several other travel firms have followed suite, offering a wide array of sports tours to cater to bulging demand, especially after wins by Vietnamese teams in football championships.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism cited representatives of local travel firms as saying that such combined tours have huge appeal to Vietnamese tourists.

The tours, which cost almost the same as conventional sightseeing ones, provide them with the opportunity to express their love for and pride in their country and its sports, in addition to exploring the countries’ scenic spots, they explained.

However, Huong, deputy head of the Marketing Department at Vietravel, pointed out difficulties in offering such combined trips.

“The tours’ efficiency depends substantially on the matches’ results and fans’ zeal and spirit. It thus requires tour operators to be highly flexible,” she clarified.

Nang, of Vietrantour, underlined that overwhelmed hotel room capacity and air tickets that generally result from such large-scale sports events pose challenges to tour operators when booking tourist services.

Late booking will result in higher tour costs and lower competitiveness.

“Sightseeing-game watching tours are also dependent on when the sports events take place.”

“For example, the ongoing 28th SEA Games, which runs in summertime, hugely appeal to families with children who combine watching matches with visiting Resorts World Sentosa,” Nang said.

However, local firms remain upbeat about the growth of such combined trips.

Apart from football, the “king” sport, such companies as Vietravel and Vietrantour have also piloted tours launched in accordance with major events in other sports.

They have also embarked on a model of combining sightseeing and resorts with playing sports such as golf.