Last month, Ministries agreed that Vietnam fully reopens its air, land, and sea borders from March 15. According to the approval, the government would remove all travel restrictions imposed since the pandemic broke out in 2020. Vietnam’s vaccine coverage is among the top countries in the world, together with the positive results of the pilot border reopening program for inbound tourists sparked the hope of the local travel companies. By this chance, TTG Asia reporter has a short interview with Mr. Pham Ha, CEO of Lux Travel DMC, and here are some details of the talk.
TTG Asia: Once borders are fully open, how do you predict recovery will play out? Eg which source markets will return first? Do you expect to see long-haul markets staying longer than pre-covid etc?
Mr. Pham Ha: Vietnam is quite late to fully reopen its borders and did not take advantage of the media coverage of the fact that people were vaccinated so quickly and even got the 3rd dose. The country will open by 15 March with some doubts about visas and quarantine free 72 hours or 24 hours test-and-go, as Thailand has applied so far. I am quite pessimistic about the inbound recovery of Vietnam’s tourism. The mass tourism sources from China, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taipei pursue zero Covid, there’s no hope. Only ASEAN countries may recover faster with closer connections, airlines, and people who want to travel closer to their homes rather than long-haul destinations. I do believe that Australians, Americans, and Europeans will be among the first to come to Vietnam from May-June in their vacation time and Vietnam is the favorite destination of German, Spanish, and French travelers. We have received more rebookings from these market sources for the summer. Our representative in Germany is taking part with Bamboo Airways (7-8 March) and in the roadshow in Frankfurt and ITB Berlin (8 – 10 March 2022).
TTG Asia: What does Vietnam need to do to make itself more competitive than the neighboring countries that reopened borders last year (e.g. Cambodia and Thailand)?
Mr. Pham Ha: There are opportunities for all countries equally after Covid 19. Whatever country that is quickly adaptable, suitable, and has the right policies to welcome guests will have great advantages. Thailand seemed to be ahead of the game. Vietnam is quite late, low, and too incoherent between the central government and local levels in opening policies. The trial reponing period was not as successful as expected due to too short a period of time and the procedures are complicated.
Vietnam has uniqueness and differences in nature, culture, food, and people’s lifestyles in comparison to competitors Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The infrastructure has been getting better in the last two years with more roads, airports, seaports, airlines, cruises, hotels, and resorts. Travelers are always looking for new, authentic, and unique experiences on their journey of discovering their body, mind, and soul. They desire to discover, dream, explore, relax, indulge, and immerse in green places, cultural and natural heritage, and new destinations. Vietnam has a lot of new emerging destinations such as Phu Quoc, Quy Nhon, Phu Yen, Lan Ha Bay, and Pu Long Nature Reserve.
Travelers look for travel experiences rich in emotion, more cultural enrichments, and circular and sustainable travel products and places. Travel is now all about destinations, experiences, and memories. For example, trendy cruising experiences on our exquisite Lux Cruises in Bai Tu Long Bay, Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay, and soon in Phu Quoc City Islands with more than sunset and day cruises, we offer night cruises for 3-4 nights. Visit the pristine beauty of Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan Cat Ba Archipelago and experience a unique opportunity to refresh and revive yourself. Indulge in a private haven of natural enchantment, enjoy a variety of lifestyle, cultural, and spa experiences, and reward yourself with a plethora of culinary flavours, then allow us to take care of every single detail of your exquisite stay.
Vietnam tourism should be positioned as an upscale destination and heritage-focused as USP.
TTG Asia: Do you know if the country intends to reinstate the visa waivers that existed pre-pandemic?
Mr. Pham Ha: Still not sure, but Vietnam will waive visas to 13 countries as before the Covid 19 outbreak. Our travel agents association and VNAT recall visa waivers for more countries in Europe, Australia, NZ, Canada, and the USA. VN should apply for more friendly visas to attract high-end travelers like e-visa or long stay visas 6 months to 1 year to attract retired travelers and long stays. Vietnam Tourism needs to be customer-satisfaction-centric and serve them what they need.
TTG Asia: What preparations have you been making for the reopening of borders?
Mr. Pham Ha: We are ready to welcome guests right away and declare customer rights 100% satisfied. We lived through and survived Covid 19 thanks to a quick switch to serving high-end local travelers with our ecosystem: travel, tourism offices across the country, our own luxury van fleet, yachts, and cruises, retaining staff in 5 languages. We created domestic departments for luxury, domestic holidaymakers, and outbound under Luxury Travel brand. For inbound, we trade under Lux travel DMC. We have published a new brochure and new video WOW VIETNAM – YouTube
We stayed connected to our clients during the pandemic and came back much stronger and we stand for creating lasting memories! Travel is all about destinations, experiences, and memories. Travelers will want to slow down and choose one destination, to feel it out and focus on their travel experiences. They will discover, explore, relax, indulge, and immerse themselves in local culture and nature. They’ll go more in-depth in each country, and explore mind-bogglingly beautiful destinations.
To cater to this predicted shift in demand, we rebranded to Lux Travel DMC and have launched DMCs within each of the 10 Southeast Asian countries, with each seen as a single destination plus Sri Lanka. With offices all over the world, luxury vehicles, five-star cruises, boutique hotels, and travel experts, we serve thousands of satisfied luxury travelers every year. And we always strive to go beyond their expectations.
We have revamped our brochure and website in 5 languages. For reopening in Vietnam from 15 March, we have unique experiences for post-pandemic travelers with Vietnam Test and Go 2022, travelers can book and pay right on the ecommerce website www.luxtraveldmc.com, free cancelation, flexible changing dates, easy to book, just test and go! Our research finds that our guests are FITs, small groups, and our guests will enjoy exclusive re-opening offers and privileges. From city living to beachside lounging, their first trip to Vietnam awaits. We highlight new travel experiences; today’s luxury travellers want to be entertained and stimulated, rather than simply pampered, and Vietnam offers a magical mix of tropical beaches, post-colonial charm, a string of world heritage sites, stunning inland scenery, a world-renowned cuisine, and a home-grown flair for hospitality.
Upscale tours today must offer off-the-beaten-track experiences. High-end travelers also expect efficiency, seamless travel, value for money, and a return on personal values. Many will opt for short trips which offer a slice of local culture, a splash of adventure, and authentic experiences. Upscale tailor-made tours in Vietnam now offer yacht cruises, helicopter, private jets tours, limousine services, wellness tours with world-class spas, centuries-old massage techniques, and delicious healthy cuisine. That is why we select the best of the best trendy new travel experiences in the Secret Hideaways Collection throughout our Southeast Asia destinations for new post-pandemic travelers.
About Mr Pham Ha, CEO of Lux Travel DMC
With more than 15 years of experience in the travel industry, he is a keynote speaker and luxury travel expert in Vietnam and around the globe. When Pham Ha saw the need for a tour company offering services that would specialize in high-end travelers, he didn’t hesitate for long. That’s how the idea of creating a travel company with an emphasis on ultra-luxurious experiences, privately guides, and bespoke holidays came to life. As a lover of Arts, Writing, History, and Culture, Pham Ha created personalized tours with an immersive approach to traveling. Mr. Pham is the founder of Lux Travel DMC specializes in high-quality travel services with an emphasis on authentic luxury travel experiences in Southeast Asia and Srilanka.