Russian travel companies based in Khanh Hoa, home to beach town Nha Trang, have proposed reopening the central province to Russian tourists from November.
Tran Viet Trung, director of Khanh Hoa’s Department of Tourism, said these firms have proposed allowing Russian tourists to enter Khanh Hoa from next month on chartered flights after a long suspension due to Covid-19. Khanh Hoa has been Russia’s most popular tourism destination in Vietnam for years.
A representative of a Russian travel agency with an office in Khanh Hoa told at a seminar on tourism recovery post Covid-19 Friday that it had sent a proposal to the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) seeking permission to resume charter flights to bring Russian tourists back to Vietnam.
Meanwhile, Le Van Nghia, head representative of Russia’s Siberia Airlines in Vietnam, said the firm is ready to operate charter flights to bring Russian tourists to Khanh Hoa with the frequency of one trip a day. Earlier, the airline operated many special flights to repatriate Russians stranded in Vietnam due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Hoang Phong Thu, chairwoman of Pegas Misr Travel Vietnam, an arm of Russian tour operator Pegas Touristik, said partners kept asking her firm when it could bring Russian tourists to Vietnam as the Russian government had announced the list of countries that its citizens could come to as tourists, including Vietnam.
However, Trung said the proposal may be refused since Vietnam remains closed off to foreign tourists to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Though the government allowed the resumption of some international commercial flights to seven Asian destinations, including mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, foreign tourists have yet to be allowed back into the country.
The only foreigners currently allowed entry are those carrying diplomatic or official passports, experts, managers, high-skilled workers, and investors, their family members, international students, and family members of Vietnamese citizens.
Russia is the world’s fourth biggest Covid-19 hotspot with over 1.1 million infections and 21,000 deaths.
Trung said Khanh Hoa has made a plan to welcome foreigners coming for official missions to stay at luxury resorts far from residential areas.
Provincial authorities are also working with foreign travel agencies like Anex Vietnam, Pegas Misr Vietnam, and Siberia Airlines to outline a plan to welcome Russian tourists back to Khanh Hoa, he added.
Russia is the second largest tourism source market of Khanh Hoa, after China. Last year, Khanh Hoa welcomed over 451,000 Russians, most of them traveling to the province on chartered flights and staying for long periods.
Between January and September, the number of tourists visiting Khanh Hoa reached some 986,000, down by 80 percent year-on-year, resulting in a 76 percent drop in the province’s total tourism revenue.
Vietnam has gone a month without domestic transmission of the coronavirus. It has so far recorded 1,096 infections, of which 38 remain active.
By Nguyen Nam @ VNExpress