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HCMC closes all tourist attractions in Covid-19 fight

By Hoang Phong    March 28, 2020 | 07:48 am PT
HCMC closes all tourist attractions in Covid-19 fight
Nguyen Hue pedestrian street in HCMC is left empty amid coronavieus fears, March 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Ho Chi Minh City has shut down all historical sites and tourist attractions from Saturday until April 15 as it fights the Covid-19 pandemic.

The city had already closed all bars, karaoke parlors, restaurants, and other entertainment facilities as it joined the country in trying to limit the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic that has claimed over 27,000 lives globally.

The latest move followed a directive issued by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, ordering all "non-essential" businesses around the country to be closed until April 15 as the country enters what he said was a critical two-week stage in its Covid-19 fight.

Most tourist destinations have worn a deserted look after the Lunar New Year holiday (January 24-29) as a result of the pandemic, then deemed a national epidemic, with some sites reporting a 70 percent fall in the number of visitors, according to the city’s Tourism Department.

The number of foreign arrivals in Ho Chi Minh City last month fell 52 percent to 346,560, while tourism revenues dropped 30 percent year-on-year to VND8.1 trillion ($348 million), the department said.

The Independence Palace in downtown Saigon closes its door to all tourists until April 15. Photo by VnExpress/Tam Linh. 

The Independence Palace in downtown Saigon closes its door to all tourists until April 15. Photo by VnExpress/Tam Linh. 

Nguyen Khoa Luan, director of the Anh Viet Company that launched open top, double-decker bus services last January, said the tours stood canceled until further notice.

HCMC received more than 8.6 million foreign visitors last year, up 13 percent from a year ago. It has targeted welcoming 10 million visitors this year, 10 percent more than last year. The city raked in VND150 trillion ($6.4 billion) in tourism revenues last year.

Vietnam welcomed nearly 3.7 million international tourists in the first three months of 2020, down 18.1 percent year-on-year, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Most popular tourist spots in Vietnam, including Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam and the ancient town of Hoi An in the central region, have closed their doors to visitors. Other famous islands, including Con Dao, Cu Lao Cham and Ly Son have temporarily halted tourist operations.

The novel coronavirus has slashed an estimated $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, according to official data.

Vietnam has 174 confirmed Covid-19 cases so far, with most of the active ones being people coming from Europe and the U.S. and others who came into close contact with them. Of these 21 have been discharged from hospitals.

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