China, Vietnam witness cross-border travel boom
Vietnamese staff members, bouquets in arm, welcome Chinese tourists at the Huu Nghi International Border Gate in northern Vietnam's Lang Son province, on March 15, 2023.(Xinhua/Hu Jiali)
NANNING, June 13 (Xinhua) -- It has been three years since Liu Fengjiao last traveled abroad, so when she recently embarked on a trip to Vietnam she was brimming with excitement.
Despite the brevity of the trip, Liu, a resident from central China's Hunan Province, was filled with delight at the prospect of the outing. Upon reaching the Youyiguan border gate following her one-day tour in Vietnam, she eagerly retrieved her camera and promptly captured a photograph of her tour group before exchanging goodbyes.
"The anticipation of this trip had filled me with exhilaration, as I had eagerly awaited it for so long. Visiting Vietnam after three years was a dream come true for me," Liu said.
The Youyiguan border gate in the city of Pingxiang in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has lately seen a cross-border travel boom, with the number of Chinese and Vietnamese tourists traveling to both sides increasing remarkably.
According to Youyiguan immigration inspection station, departures and arrivals at the border gate reached 460,000 from January to May, which included around 1,400 tour groups with over 23,000 tourists.
With the release of pent-up travel demand after the pandemic, travel agencies and tourism practitioners from both China and Vietnam are expressing confidence in the cross-border tourism market.
Chinese tourists wave to Vietnamese staff members at the Huu Nghi International Border Gate in northern Vietnam's Lang Son province, on March 15, 2023. (Xinhua/Hu Jiali)
Deng Qingfang, from Guangxi Pingxiang Peace International Travel Co., Ltd., said that she has been quite busy lately. Since the resumption of group travel between China and Vietnam in March, she has been actively responding to travel inquiries and connecting with Vietnamese travel agencies.
"We have seen a significant surge in tourists consulting us for travel plans. In the past two months alone, the number of tourists served by our agency has increased by nearly 30 percent compared to the pre-pandemic levels in 2019," said Deng, who has been working in the cross-border travel industry for nearly a decade.
The resurgence in travel demand has rekindled hope among tourism practitioners. According to Deng, all the tour guides who had left the agency over the past three years have returned and resumed their roles as tour leaders, with a majority of them leading tours to Vietnam.
In addition to Chinese tourists, the agency has also seen a notable increase in the number of Vietnamese tourists visiting China. "Recently, we received some 1,000 Vietnamese tourists on a single day," she said.
Pham Thi Hoa Mai, manager of a Vietnamese travel agency, has recently visited many cities in Guangxi to design new travel routes. "China is one of the most popular travel destinations for Vietnamese tourists, and we also collaborate with Chinese travel agencies to organize trips," she said.
In 2019, China was Vietnam's biggest source of foreign visitors with 5.8 million arrivals. Vietnam's tourism industry is well-prepared to welcome more visitors, according to local tourism businesses.
"I will definitely visit Vietnam again and other countries in Southeast Asia. And next time I will stay longer," Liu said.
According to Li Hui, a police officer at Youyiguan immigration inspection station, they have opened special channels for group tours while adopting some new measures to facilitate efficient customs clearance.