The tourism sector is looking to cash in on a proposal from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs to give Government workers an extra long Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday next January.

Travel bookings have already increased following the announcement of the ministry’s proposal, which hopes to give Government workers nine days off from 21 to 29 January, instead of the usual four days of holidays. The ministry’s proposal is currently under consideration.

What some describe as the longest Tet break ever is set to provide a large boost to the domestic tourism sector.

Le Hong Thai, Manager of the Inland Tourism Department at the Hanoi Tourist Travel Company, said a majority of recent customers were looking for tours ranging from four to six days to popular domestic destinations such as Sa Pa, Ha Giang, Da Nang, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc.

“Most people choose to start their trips on the second or third day of Lunar New Year,” Thai said.

Destinations outside Viet Nam that are popular this year are led by Thailand, according to Tong Thu Hien, Deputy Director of Hanoi Tourist Corporation.

“After the recent floods in Thailand, the company is offering a big promotion programme that includes a 5 day/4 night tour to Thailand at only 329 USD,” Hien said.

Pham Thi Ngoc from Hanoi Redtours Joint Stock Co said the number of people booking tours has risen sharply after the announcement of the proposal to lengthen the holidays.

Despite higher costs for domestic and regional tours during the Tet holiday, bookings for tours have risen by 25 percent over the same period last year, said Ngoc.

She added that the cost of Tet-time road tours to northern destinations such as Sa Pa or Ha Giang were not higher than usual as tourist services there were not fully booked.

Tong Thu Hien from the Ha Noi Tourist Corp said the cost of a five-day tour during the Tet holiday has risen by 20-30 USD over prices for other times throughout the year.

Do Thu Anh from Viettran tours said the number of travellers during the coming Tet holiday is set to rise sharply by 10 to 15 percent over last year.

“The company’s tour costs change due to higher flight fares, an increase of about 15 to 20 per cent compared to usual,” said Anh.

Many Vietnamese workers who don’t usually go on trips during Tet are looking forward to a special holiday this year

Ho Thai Khanh, a civil servant from Hanoi, said he is planning to take his family on a beachside holiday.

“In previous years, we used to enjoy Tet in Hanoi,” said Khanh. “This year, my family will go on a four-day trip to Nha Trang. We are looking forward to enjoying the warm weather and lively atmosphere there to make it a special holiday for the children.”

Travel agencies are also promoting shopping tours to destinations such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Quangzhou, mainland China.

Richer families such as Nguyen Hong Mai’s family are planning to travel to Europe this Tet.

“After finding out that the national carrier Vietnam Airlines is launching direct flights between Hanoi and London from December 8, my family booked a seven-day tour to Britain,” said Mai. /.