Vietnam tour guides cash in on summer travel boom

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Le Doan Ngoc Thi, director of the HCMC-based Viet Guide Company, said each tour guide in his company receives six to eight tour groups in June and July, the peak months of the summer travel season.

Each group consisted of 15 to 45 people and they mainly visited resorts like Vung Tau, Phan Thiet and Nha Trang, Thi said.

The monthly income of tour guides this summer ranged from 25 to 30 million VND ($1,068 to $1,281) per person, which is equivalent to pre-pandemic levels, Thi said.

Nguyen Xuan Dong, a freelance tour guide who mainly works on island tours in the seaside city of Nha Trang, said he was happy that the number of his tour bookings rose sharply this summer.

“The number of customers booking my tours to the islands of Nha Trang has reached over 70% of pre-pandemic levels, and I was able to earn a monthly income of VND30 million this summer,” Dong said.

Before the pandemic, he earned around VND 35-40 million per month during the summer season.

“After losing my income for more than two years due to the Covid pandemic, I am happy with what I have now and hope the tourism industry quickly recovers to pre-pandemic levels.”

The Thanh Duoc at HCMC has had to work non-stop for the past two months, waking up at 2 or 3 a.m. to pick up clients from Tan Son Nhat Airport and not returning home until midnight.

Duoc said most tour guides are now paid between 500,000 and 700,000 VND per day for each group, excluding other allowances.

Representatives of some travel agencies also confirmed that in the past two months, the monthly income of experienced tour guides was around VND 25-30 million.

A representative of Hanoi-based tour operator Hanoitourist said the company’s average monthly tour guide income rose 15% above pre-pandemic levels this summer.

However, the picture remains bleak for tour guides specializing in serving incoming tourists, as the number of foreign visitors visiting Vietnam after the March 15 reopening remains low.

In the first seven months of this year, Vietnam received 733,000 foreign arrivals, only 15 percent of this year’s target.

Some tour guides who previously focused on the Chinese and Russian markets are turning to other jobs to make ends meet as China continues to maintain its zero-Covid policy and related restrictions, while international flights to Russia were suspended due to the war against Ukraine.

According to the Vietnam National Tourism Administration, there were 31,000 licensed tour guides in Vietnam before Covid-19 hit the country in 2020, earning monthly incomes of VND 10-40 million.

After the pandemic hit, many of them moved on to other jobs.

Tourist destinations across Vietnam attracted more than 23 million domestic tourists in the past two months, more than two-thirds of the total number in the first six months of the year.

There were 60.8 million domestic tourists in the first half, exceeding the target of 60 million set for the full year.

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