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TRAVEL IN BRIEF 3/2

Italian cruise ship brings thousands

Saigontourist Travel Service Co welcomed some 2,500 passengers and crew members who arrived in Ha Long Bay aboard the cruise ship Costa Classica on Wednesday.

During their one-day tour of the bay, the visitors went to Long Tien and Yen Tu Pagodas and Hon Gai town.

They also enjoyed water puppetry and traditional music shows and visited a local community on the bay before departing in the evening.

Saigontourist said the vessel operated by the Italian operator Costa Crociere S.p.A. would return to Ha Long Bay on February 9, 13, 21, and 29.

Ha Long Bay offers free admission

As a gesture of thanks to everyone who supported and voted for Ha Long Bay in the Seven New Natural Wonders of the World poll, Quang Ninh Province authorities waived entry fees for visitors to the bay from January 23 to February 5.

Phung Duc Tin, deputy head of the Ha Long Bay Management Board, said the tourism site received 7,000-10,000 visitors every day on average.

Passes enough for Chinese visitors

Chinese tourists from Hainan coming aboard the cruise ship SuperStar Aquarius can enter Viet Nam with laissez-passes instead of passports from next week following an agreement between the Chinese and Vietnamese governments.

According to StarCruises, the vessel operator, they have agreed to accept laissez-passes for tourists from Sanya in China and Ha Long and Da Nang in Viet Nam.

Any tourist with an identity card can ask for a laissez-pass to travel from Sanya to Ha Long and Da Nang for three days and two nights on the SuperStar Aquarius which is expected to bring 130,000 tourists to Viet Nam in the next five months.

More locals travel abroad

Some 120,000 people from HCM City and neighbouring provinces travelled abroad by air and land last month. According to the city Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, around 80,000 left via Tan Son Nhat Airport, an increase of 20 per cent over last year, while the rest left through the Moc Bai border checkpoint in Tay Ninh Province.

HCM City-based travel agencies reported growth rates of 10 to 30 per cent despite higher tour prices than during normal days.

Tour operators profit during Tet

Major HCM City-based travel firms such as Saigontourist, Ben Thanh Tourist, Fiditourist, Vietravel, and Lien Bang Travelink reported good sales during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays.

Saigontourist had around 100 tourist groups leaving for domestic tours to Nha Trang, Phan Thiet, Da Lat, Ninh Chu, Buon Ma Thuot, and Tuy Hoa.

Vietravel said it sold 30,000 tours, a 30 per cent rise from last year. The most popular destinations were Ha Noi, Ha Long, Sa Pa, Bai Dinh, Trang An, Hue, Phong Nha, and Quang Binh.

Fiditours said it served some 18,000 customers, 10,000 on domestic tours and 8,000 on overseas tours. Tours to Asian destinations such as Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and South Korea were the most popular.

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

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