Airlines and railways gearing for summer tourism

The prospect of restarting summer tourism this year, and once again reviving the flagging tourism industry, has largely been based on the immense efforts to have successfully contained the coronavirus in Vietnam. Now many airlines and railways are getting ready to launch exciting summer packages to once again welcome a flow of travellers.  
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Summer tourism demand

According to forecasts, the demand for domestic tourism in the summer of 2021 will grow very strongly, and may even explode, after people have been constrained for a long time due to the pandemic. Therefore, transportation companies are already preparing to catch on to the coming opportunity. There are plans to open the summer travel campaign in 2021 with the holidays during Liberation Day starting from 30 April and Labour Day on 1 May. According to information from the airlines, for just one-week holiday, Vietnam Airlines, Pacific Airlines, and Vasco are preparing to provide upto 500,000 seats, equivalent to 2,600 domestic flights, which is an increase of 100,000 seats compared to normal times. Similarly, VietJet and Bamboo airlines are also expected to increase their supply of seats on an average by 15% to 20% on many domestic routes.

Not only during these coming holidays, but also during the summer months of 2021, airlines are concentrating on providing maximum number of flights to tourist destinations such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Quy Nhon, Da Lat, and Phu Quoc. One representative of Vietnam Airlines said that the airline has arranged a diverse summer flight schedule, that will allow passengers to have many choices. A VietJet representative shared that in addition to increasing flights on routes to important tourist destinations, the airline has decided to open five more routes from Da Nang, Thanh Hoa, Nha Trang, Da Lat, and Vinh to Phu Quoc Island, to serve a large number of tourists travelling to this popular resort island. The airlines have also launched many price ranges of combos, including airline tickets plus hotel stay, to stimulate more tourism demand.

Along with aviation, the railways also expect revenue to recover in the summer tourism season of 2021. Mr. Vu Anh Minh, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Vietnam Railway Corporation (VNR), said that besides maintaining the daily trains, the railway has planned to increase dozens of trains on some routes, especially to the central provinces. Particularly in April and May, the railway transport companies will implement stimulus programs, with almost 10,000 train tickets with a 50% discount on the North-South route.

In particular, VNR is cooperating with the Hanoi UNESCO office to organize charter trains from Hanoi to Dong Hoi, Hue, and vice versa during the summer. The railway industry is also cooperating with the People's Committees of Quang Binh and Hue provinces to build stimulus packages with many preferential and attractive policies to serve passengers traveling to Central Vietnam.

Safe quality service

While waiting for a spectacular breakthrough in summer tourism 2021, experts also expressed concern that the boom in demand could put too much pressure on the transport industry. According to Mr. Khuat Viet Hung, Vice Chairman in charge of the National Traffic Safety Committee of Vietnam, transport units have been asked to continue to strengthen measures to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic. In particular, the airlines continue to ask passengers to wear masks throughout the journey, and employees in some high-risk locations will be equipped with medical protection equipment, spray disinfect aircrafts, provide anti-bacterial hand wipes, and sterilize headphones with ultraviolet rays.

A representative of Vietnam Airlines said that the company was working with domestic and foreign agencies to research, build and test vaccine passports to prepare for international tourism in the immediate future. Vietnam Airlines has also worked with International Air Traffic Association (IATA) on the electronic health passport project and participated in the trial of IATA Travel Pass applications. According to Mr. Alexandre de Juniac, IATA General Director, the IATA Travel Pass helps passengers and the government to manage travel and medical information safely, conveniently, and effectively. This is an important basis for international aviation operations to be allowed to once again restart.

In order to ensure the quality of service in the high season, and avoid congestion due to the high number of passengers, especially at Tan Son Nhat airport, airlines recommend that passengers actively arrange schedules, and arrive early to avoid delays. In particular, for quick clearance at the security screening area, passengers need to prepare identification papers and boarding passes beforehand, store all personal items such as watches, bracelets, and keys into backpacks or handbags before the screening. In the event that a flight is about to arrive at departure time, passengers should immediately contact the airline staff present at the security checkpoint for priority assistance in screening. The airlines said they have increased staffing at Tan Son Nhat airport to assist all passengers.

With the railway industry, transport units are also maintaining measures to prevent Covid-19 infection from spreading, such as spraying and disinfecting of trains and also all passenger areas in the railway stations; implementing social distancing of passengers in waiting rooms and when entering the train compartments; enhancing environmental sanitation and disinfection; arranging hand sanitizers and antiseptic solutions; and taking the body temperature of all passengers and visitors when entering the train station. With these solutions, the railway industry is hoping to meet the travel demand this summer and reduce the damage being currently caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has recently launched a plan to implement regular international flights into Vietnam. Accordingly, in Phase 1, airlines will restore package flights for only Vietnamese citizens. In Phase 2, beginning in July, the airlines will launch flights into Vietnam with quarantine after entry, for both Vietnamese nationals and foreigners who have a negative test certificate for Covid-19. During Phase 3, which is expected to start from September, CAAV will deploy regular flights into Vietnam that do not require quarantine or isolation as vaccine passports will be introduced by then.

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