Travel, hospitality firms brace for SEA Games tourism boost
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Foreign tourists take a cyclo tour around downtown Hanoi, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
Travel firms and hotels are preparing products and services to cash in on an expected tourism boost from Vietnam hosting the SEA Games, Southeast Asia's largest sports event.
Pham Ha, chairman of Lux Group, which specializes in luxury cruise ships, said his company expects the SEA Games 31 held in Vietnam this month to be a "great opportunity" for Vietnam to boosts its tourism image and attract more foreign tourists after over two years of border closure over the Covid-19 pandemic.
Currently, the company is offering several short tours for foreign tourists, including a five-day journey exploration of the Tonkin for $639 per person and a two-day Ha Long Bay cruise for $242.
Nguyen Cong Hoan, CEO of Flamingo Redtours in Hanoi, said his company would cooperate with 5-star hotels on tours that introduce architectural landmarks like the Opera House, Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel, the State Bank of Vietnam building and the Government's Guesthouse during the SEA Games event, which will be hosted in Hanoi and several northern provinces including Quang Ninh, home to Ha Long, from May 12 to 23.
Hanoi-based Hanoitourist company has said it will launch a cycle tour for tourists and runners to explore the Bat Trang Village, famed for its centuries-old pottery craft. It would also offer a walking tour to discover French colonial heritages in the heart of Hanoi and a night tour of Hanoi's Thang Long Imperial Citadel, which has witnessed the rise and fall of Vietnam’s feudal dynasties.
Hoang Thuy Linh, deputy director of marketing and communications at tour operator Saigontourist, said her company will organize one-day tour in Hanoi, HCMC and Da Nang for runners to discover Vietnam’s heritages and promote the country’s tourism images.
Nguyen Thuy Linh, marketing and communication manager of Hanoi Pan Pacific Hotel, which will host teams participating in the kurash and aerobics competitions, said the number of guests staying at the hotel during the SEA Games event is expected to increase significantly and the hotel’s occupancy rate would nearly reach its maximum capacity.
Bui Thanh Tung, general manager of Grand Vista Hanoi, which would host bowling teams competing at the SEA Games, said the hotel will upgrade service quality and arrange special food stalls for Muslim contestants and officials.
SEA Games 31 is expected to attract nearly 10,000 athletes, coaches and officials from ASEAN countries and tens of thousands of tourists.
Dang Huong Giang, director of Hanoi's tourism department, said the regional sports event is an opportunity for the tourism industry to promote the nation’s image among foreign tourists as a safe and friendly destination.
Hanoi expects the event to catalyze post-pandemic tourism recovery, with 3.2 million visitors expected in the second quarter – three million domestic and 150,000-200,000 international tourists.
Pham Hong Long, a tourism expert with the Hanoi University of Social Sciences and Humanity, said the SEA Games presents a good opportunity for Vietnam to promote its tourism reopening policy and attract foreign tourists, especially from Southeast Asia.
However, Long said Southeast Asia is a very diverse region in terms of religion and culture, so travel companies and hotels serving guests on the occasion of the SEA Games need to pay close attention to cuisine and culture, especially Muslim guests.
Ha of Lux Group also said he expected to see more foreign tourists during the upcoming sports event.
"I hope the number of foreign tourists arriving in Vietnam during the SEA Games event next month increases by 5-10 percent against pre-pandemic levels and the government would relax visa polices for nationals of more countries to give the inbound tourism market a boost," he said.
Vietnam has resumed its pre-pandemic visa policies for ASEAN member states, Japan, South Korea and several European nations.