Hanoi (VNA) – The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping people’s travel behaviour and habits around the world as countries have imposed travel restrictions and banned international flights to stem the spread of the virus.

Since it remains unknown when international travel will be restored to normal, the domestic market is becoming a lifesaver for Vietnam’s tourism sector this year.

The World Travel Organisation (UNWTO) forecast that domestic and near-home tourism would be prominent globally in 2021, accounting for over 90 percent of general trends. People now tend to travel somewhere close to their place of residence or to natural surroundings; and go in small groups or with family.

In the face of the uncertain COVID-19 situation and travel restrictions remaining in place in many countries, health and safety measures would continue to be a major concern among tourists this year, while last-minute travel bookings would continue to be common.

According to Anthony Lu, regional director of Booking.com Vietnam, a recent survey has shown that 71 percent of Vietnamese consider future travel opportunities a way to reconnect with their loved ones and that 67 percent would like shorter vacations.

Vietnamese prefer domestic, near-home tours due to COVID-19: Survey hinh anh 1People are now in more favour of tours to somewhere close to natural surroundings. (Photo: VietnamPlus).

At least 43 percent prefer relaxing “escape” trips to luxury travel, while 53 percent are eager to try local cuisines while travelling.

In 2020, most tourists spent a long time away from friends and family and it appears that distance made people respect each other more.

The research has also revealed that 49 percent of travellers agreed that travel is a fascinating topic to discuss among friends and family and one of the main sources of inspiration for reviving travel again.

As most people’s travel plans have been postponed due to the pandemic, 57 percent of Vietnamese tourists are determined not to take lightly the opportunity to travel in the future.

At least 38 percent would immediately consider a weekend holiday for the first trip after travel restrictions are lifted. However, only 10 percent would pursue a luxury trip due to concerns about disruption.

Vietnamese prefer domestic, near-home tours due to COVID-19: Survey hinh anh 2Adventure tours are preferred by many young people. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

In terms of international travel, 73 percent of respondents said that they would avoid travelling abroad despite the lift of travel restrictions. That explains why domestic tourism remains a top priority in 2021.

Some 53 percent of Vietnamese tourists said they wanted to experience local cuisine when travelling and 45 percent would eat out more because of savings on not travelling abroad.

In addition, the tendency to travel alone is likely to increase sharply, as 29 percent of local tourists said that they would travel alone in the future.

Vietnamese prefer domestic, near-home tours due to COVID-19: Survey hinh anh 3Community-based travel is also on a rise. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to change tourism trends,” Director Lu said. “But it is reassuring to see that Vietnamese tourists are optimistic when it comes to travelling in 2021. The research results have confirmed that tourism is an important part of life. As soon as the quality and safe tourism conditions are ensured, tourists will confidently seek out new adventures.”

Actual travel may still be some way off but tourism players in some Southeast Asian nations are whetting appetites with virtual tours. In Myanmar, Exploration Travel has announced a new tour that allows virtual visits to the UNESCO World Heritage temples of Bagan. The Zoom-based tour lasts about 45 minutes and costs about 50 USD for a group of ten.

Similar tours have also been launched in Indonesia. With just 2 USD, people can explore historic relics in the city of Semarang or the underwater world in the island of Komodo.

These offer a great suggestion for tourism firms in Vietnam to survive the COVID-19 crisis./.