International flights resumption fails to enthuse Vietnam tourism firms

By Dat Nguyen   September 6, 2020 | 11:36 am GMT+7
International flights resumption fails to enthuse Vietnam tourism firms
A Vietnam Airlines aircraft lands at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City on June 15, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

Vietnamese tourism companies are not enthused about the possibility of flight resumption to six Asian destinations because they don’t expect large numbers of tourists to board these flights.

Nguyen Cong Hoan, deputy CEO of Hanoi Redtours, said that flights to these destinations will mostly serve businesspeople, workers and students and not tourists.

"Although this shows that the Vietnamese government is opening up the doors to other countries, tourism will not see immediate benefits because the mandatory 14-day quarantine policy will discourage tourists," he said.

Hoan was commenting on a plan by Vietnam aviation authorities to resume commercial flights to Guangzhou (mainland China), Seoul (South Korea), Tokyo (Japan), Taipei (Taiwan), and Cambodia and Laos as early as later this month.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) said this plan, if approved, will bring in about 5,000 passengers a week to Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Can Tho City.

Phan Dinh Hue, CEO of Ho Chi Minh City-based tourism firm VietCircle, said people only travel when they feel safe, and amid the ongoing pandemic, not many are willing to take the risk contracting the virus on a flight.

People also do not want to be "trapped" in a destination if it is locked down, as happened to many last month when there was an outbreak in Da Nang City, he added.

What tourism companies want now is a chance to reboot domestic travel. Nguyen Quoc Ky, chairman of leading tourism company Vietravel, said authorities need to establish a map of safe travel destinations in the country to boost demand and help tourism companies survive.

Hoan of Hanoi Redtours proposed that authorities in each locality assess the Covid-19 situation in their area and make appropriate decisions.

If there was no Covid-19 cases recorded in a locality, tourism and entertainment activities should be allowed, he said.

He added that in the long run, if the resumption of international flights does not result in a surge of community transmissions of the novel coronavirus, the government could remove the 14-day quarantine policy. Only then would tourism companies be able resume their international operations.

The Covid-19 pandemic has seriously damaged Vietnam's tourism sector. Tourism revenues in the first eight months fell over 54 percent year-on-year to VND13.1 trillion ($569 million), according to the General Statistics Office.

Foreign arrivals fell 67 percent to 3.77 million in the period.

Last year, Vietnam welcomed 18 million foreign tourists, up 16.2 percent year-on-year.

 
 
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