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Thursday, December 2, 2021

HCMC reopens waterway tour services

By Dao Loan

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HCMC – Nearly 50 local and foreign tourists working in HCMC took a waterway tour to the city’s outlying district of Can Gio last weekend, marking the resumption of waterway travel services in the city after months of suspension due to the latest Covid resurgence.

The tourists took the day trip on a Greenlines high-speed boat which departed from the Bach Dang Wharf in downtown HCMC to Can Gio District and then to Thieng Lieng Hamlet in the district’s island commune of Thanh An and the Vam Sat ecological tourist zone.

In Thieng Lieng, the tourists joined a bike tour around the small island, getting to know residents’ daily lives through salt-making crafts and herbal footbaths, among others.

At the Vam Sat tourist zone, tourists took part in a range of activities such as visiting the mangrove forest and the Greater Asiatic Yellow Bat sanctuary on wooden boats, experiencing crab-fishing.

“Although the tour is just a single travel product, it means a lot to the Saigontourist Group and the Saigontourist Travel Service Company’s efforts to help the tourism sector recover,” said Vo Anh Tai, vice general director of the Group.

HCMC-based tour operator Saigontourist is offering waterway tours to Can Gio at VND1.779 million per visitor.

Earlier, the travel agency had coordinated with the city’s departments and agencies to organize over 10 tours for frontline healthcare workers who came to HCMC to help treat Covid patients.

Besides, hotels operated by Saigontourist offered accommodation and dining services to thousands of medical workers coming from other provinces to the city to aid the treatment of patients, with total costs of over VND300 billion.

As for the waterway tour service, it is among the city’s special tour services. With the resumption, the municipal tourism industry has taken a step forward in its plan to step up the recovery of the industry, which has been hit hard by the fourth wave of infections, mostly with the highly contagious Delta variant.

Following this first tour, the HCMC Tourism Department said it would continue to coordinate with districts and businesses in the city to design more waterway tours in the upcoming time.

The municipal government’s leaders and the department had previously also worked with their counterparts in the provinces of Tay Ninh, Khanh Hoa, and Phu Yen to reopen interprovincial tours. As a result, tours on the HCMC-Tay Ninh route resumed on October 18, while tours linking the city with the remaining provinces are expected to occur on November 1.

To travel to these localities, people have to book tours through travel agencies in the tourism bubble format. They must have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid, have proof of a negative test result taken within 72 hours before departure, file health declarations and comply with safety protocols.

In related news, the tourism authority of Ba Ria-Vung Tau yesterday, October 24, issued a Covid adaptation plan for the local tourism sector, so that local travel firms can proactively adopt measures to welcome back tourists in coming days.

Under the plan, tourists would be tested if they show signs of infection or come from high-risk areas; travel from extremely-high-risk areas, or areas under lockdown; or develop symptoms including fever, coughing, fatigue, sore throat, or shortness of breath.

Tourists must also follow anti-Covid measures, make health declarations or have QR codes on their health status ready.

Resorts, hotels and lodging establishments in the province’s low- and moderate-risk areas can operate at full capacity. In high-risk areas, lodging facilities must operate at no more than 50% capacity; large gatherings of over 25 people are banned; passenger transport vehicles must use only 50% of their seats and non-essential services such as karaoke and massage parlors must operate in line with regulations of the local authorities.

In extremely-high-risk locations, tourist activities remain suspended. Lodging facilities have to operate at no more than 30% capacity and indoor events must not gather more than 20 people.

Aside from practicing anti-virus measures, tourism businesses must register and self-assess their Covid transmission risk daily via the website at http://safe.tourism.com.vn to be connected to the national Covid safety system.

Trinh Hang, director of the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Provincial Tourism Department, said tourism businesses in this southern province are piloting welcoming tourists who have been fully inoculated or have recovered from Covid within the last six months. The department has proposed the provincial government consider keeping these requirements unchanged to ensure safety for the province.

The department would issue detailed guidelines once the provincial government passed the proposal.

Similarly, the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong is set to open its doors to local tourists from other provinces and cities next month. Tourists to Lam Dong must show proof of full vaccination or recovery from Covid and present proof of a negative PCR test result that came out within 72 hours before departure. The province would welcome tourists to a limited number of locations, including the cities of Dalat and Bao Loc.

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