American tourists wear Vietnamese conical hats 'non la' and traditional checkered black and white shawl 'khan rang' at a welcome ceremony in HCMC on April 8, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Huynh Nhi
A group of 130 American tourists arrived in HCMC Friday, the largest group of foreign visitors to the city since Vietnam reopened to tourism three weeks ago.
The group, comprising mostly entrepreneurs and first-time visitors to the city, was ceremonially welcomed at the Vietnam History Museum in District 1.
They will stay in five-star hotels, take boat tours along the Saigon River, visit Ben Thanh Market, the annual Ao Dai Festival, and the Cu Chi tunnels, a labyrinthine network used during the Vietnam War by Vietnamese soldiers for hiding and as a communication and supply route.
The visitors will also tour the Mekong Delta, the world-renowned Ha Long Bay, Hanoi, and Da Nang.
Nancy Lesage, one of the tourists, said: "I feel safe and do not worry about Covid-19 when I'm here. Everything is full of life."
She plans to recommend Vietnam to her family and friends once she returns home.
Debra Rosen, one of the few in the group to have visited Vietnam before, said she rarely travels to a place twice unless she is really interested and impressed.
"I love this country."
At the ceremony, the visitors received souvenirs from authorities and were offered discounts on accommodation, dining and shopping by various businesses.
Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, director of the city Department of Tourism, said the city is set to receive MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions) tourist groups from other markets.
HCMC is running a tourism program called ‘Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City’. To last from March to September, it has businesses in the tourism and services sectors offering discounts and new products to visitors.
Vietnam reopened its borders to foreign tourists on March 15, allows quarantine-free entry and has reinstated its pre-pandemic visa policies, including waivers for the nationals of 24 countries.