A tourism lockdown in central Vietnam as Covid-19 fears escalate

By Nguyen Nam, Vo Thanh   March 15, 2020 | 08:26 pm PT
A tourism lockdown in central Vietnam as Covid-19 fears escalate
Phu Yen along the central coast is a lesser-known tourist destination in Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Meo Gia.
Popular tourist destinations in central Vietnam are closing their doors amid rising anxieties about coronavirus infections.

Quang Binh Province, home to the UNESCO-recognized Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and the world’s largest cave Son Doong, has closed all historical and relics sites starting Monday.

Oxalis, the only private company licensed to bring tourists to Son Doong, had temporarily suspended receiving visitors.

Son Doong, which opened to tourists in 2013, allows exploration of a five kilometer-long system, 150 meters high and 200 meters wide, containing at least 150 individual caves, a dense subterranean jungle and several underground rivers. According to Oxalis, 489 visiting slots were available for 2020.

Neighboring Quang Tri Province has said it will stop receiving visitors at its tourist sites and historical relics from 7 a.m. Tuesday.

The UNESCO heritage site, My Son Sanctuary in Quang Nam Province, has stopped selling entry tickets for visitors until further notice.

The My Son Sanctuary is a complex of abandoned and partly ruined Hindu temples constructed between the 4th and 14th centuries by the Champa, a united kingdom of various groups of the ethnic Cham.

Earlier, the ancient town of Hoi An, Bay Mau coconut forest and Cham Islands in Quang Nam had also stopped receiving visitors.

The Hue Imperial Citadel area, testament to the rise and fall of Nguyen Dynasty, the last royal family to rule Vietnam (1802-1945), closed its doors last Saturday until further notice.

Authorities in Thua Thien-Hue Province, home to the former imperial capital, have asked all bars, karaoke parlors, movie theaters and other entertainment facilities to close.

Inside the Hue Imperial Citadel in Hue. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Thanh. 

The Imperial Citadel in Hue. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Thanh. 

Vietnam has recorded 57 Covid-19 cases, 16 of whom were discharged weeks ago.

The 41 new infections have been confirmed since March 6 after the country had gone 22 days without a new infection. Seventeen are foreigners, all of whom are European.

The nation’s worst-hit locality in terms of the number of Covid-19 patients at present, Binh Thuan Province in south central Vietnam, has closed all bars, karaoke parlors, crowded entertainment facilities and all tourist sites, including the popular resort town of Mui Ne in Phan Thiet and Phu Quy Island.

Some famous islands, including Con Dao, Cu Lao Cham, and Ly Son have temporarily halted tourist operations.

Other central provinces including Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa have also shut down all tourist hotspots and historical relics as they join the national effort to combat the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic.

The novel coronavirus has slashed $7 billion in Vietnam’s tourism revenues for January-February 2020, with the number of hotel guests in this period decreasing year-on-year by 60-70 percent, Government Office Chief Mai Tien Dung said at a meeting last week.

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