New Covid-19 outbreak could crush Vietnam tourism: Vietravel chairman

By Minh Son   February 2, 2021 | 04:18 pm PT
New Covid-19 outbreak could crush Vietnam tourism: Vietravel chairman
Residents stand by a fence to block entrance into an alley on Nguyen Khanh Toan Road, Cau Giay District, Hanoi on January 28, 2021, amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Nhan.
Vietravel chairman Nguyen Quoc Ky is concerned that the latest Covid-19 outbreak could crush the already beleaguered tourism industry.

Although the recent surge in Covid-19 cases was not a surprise, it has created much tension for him and the company as the seven-day Lunar New Year holiday nears, Ky told VnExpress.

"If the outbreak can be be contained within 10 days as Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam expects, it would be extremely lucky for businesses. But if the spread of the virus scales up, the consequences will be terrible."

The Tet holiday, which begins February 10, is typically a period with high demand for domestic travel, in particular among customers in the south wanting to visit destinations in the north like Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province.

But the travel company has suspended or rerouted all tours in the north after nearly 300 Covid-19 cases were confirmed in the region since January 28. It has also let all its staff stay at home.

Ky said that January is usually the time when tour companies focus on advertising their products. However, the atmosphere has been very quiet this year as companies suffer from depleted resources or have left the market.

"I don’t know if the tourism industry can continue to exist if this outbreak expands on a large scale."

Employees have suffered the most as their hopes of returning to work after a challenging year have been dashed. Compared to pre-pandemic times, only half of Vietravel staff are working now.

Ky said that the tourism industry has not so far received any major support package, which is what it needs most now.

Vietnam’s tourism industry went through one of the most difficult years in its history last year when the Covid-19 pandemic slashed the number of foreign arrivals by nearly 79 percent to 3.8 million, according to the General Statistics Office.

Industry revenues plunged nearly 56 percent to VND17.9 trillion ($771.55 million) as flights were canceled and people became reluctant in making travel plans due to fear of contracting the novel coronavirus.

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