Vietnam tourism floored again as Covid-19 resurfaces

By Dat Nguyen   January 29, 2021 | 05:00 am PT
Vietnam tourism floored again as Covid-19 resurfaces
A medical staff checks temperature of car passengers in the northern province of Quang Ninh on January 28, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Cuong.
The latest Covid-19 outbreak in northern Vietnam has dented tourism firms’ hopes for a revenue surge during the upcoming Tet, the nation’s longest holiday.

Nguyen Cong Hoan, deputy director of Hanoi Redtours, said his company stands ready to suspend services as soon as authorities order it, especially to places like Ha Long Bay, a tourist hotspot located in the northern province of Quang Ninh. Fifteen new Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in the province since Thursday.

"Although we are not pessimistic about the 2021 outlook, the outbreak surely has put more roadblocks on our recovery journey this year after experiencing major challenges caused by the pandemic last year," he told VnExpress International.

Other tourism firms have canceled or made changes to their tours to ensure safety and keep the business running after Vietnam recorded over 149 new Covid-19 patients within two days, just two weeks before the year’s biggest festival.

Leading tour company Vietravel has made plans to relocate 101 tours to Quang Ninh in the next three weeks to other destinations in the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta.

The company has also offered to refund customers with other tour options in the upcoming months.

Nguyen Nguyet Van Khanh, deputy director of the company’s marketing department, said that the latest outbreak will have a major impact on the tourism industry as many people were making travel plans after Vietnam went nearly two months without a community transmission.

Vietrantour has canceled 12 tours with over 200 customers in Ha Long, Quang Ninh and Cat Ba, Hai Phong City.

Hanoitourist is relocating its Ha Long tours to other destinations like the northern province of Ninh Binh.

Le Hong Thai, deputy director of Hanoitourist, said many southern customers have called to know if they could cancel or reschedule their tours to the north.

"Tourism companies will be hurt, but we support the administration of local authorities to quickly contain the outbreak."

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.

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

Industry insiders say that many difficulties will likely linger this year, especially with the new outbreak affecting the northern localities of Hai Duong, Quang Ninh, Hai Phong, Bac Ninh, and Hanoi.

Hoan of Hanoi Redtours, which saw revenues plunge 80 percent last year, estimates it would take around three years for the industry to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

Municipal authorities in several northern localities have suspended all crowd-gathering events as government officials warned that the new Covid-19 variant has a faster contagion rate.

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