New coronavirus could cost Vietnam $7.7 bln in Q1 tourism revenue

By Kieu Duong    February 7, 2020 | 05:46 pm PT
New coronavirus could cost Vietnam $7.7 bln in Q1 tourism revenue
Nguyen Hue pedestrian street, a busy tourist destination in Saigon, looks deserted on February 5, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Tam Linh.
The nCoV epidemic could cost Vietnam $5.9- $7.7 billion in Q1 tourism revenues, or about 25 percent of the industry's revenue last year, officials estimate.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) said Thursday the number of Chinese tourists would likely fall by more than 90-100 percent in the first quarter, or 1.7-1.9 million arrivals, after Vietnam suspended all flights to and from China amidst the nCoV epidemic.

This means a loss of $1.8-2 billion in revenue from the country’s biggest feeder market. Last year China accounted for 5.8 million of the total 18 million foreign arrivals, or more than 30 percent.

VNAT also estimated a 50-70 percent drop in arrivals from other countries, equivalent to $2.2-3 billion in revenues. A 70 percent fall in domestic tourism would cost another $1.9-2.7 billion.

The estimated total loss of $7.7 billion is equivalent to 24.5 percent of the tourism industry's $31.4 billion revenue last year.

Many Vietnamese localities including travel hotspots Nha Trang Town in central Khanh Hoa Province, Quang Ninh Province in the north and the central city of Da Nang have ordered tour companies to stop accepting Chinese customers to limit the spread of nCoV.

Top popular tourist spots in HCMC have been left deserted in recent days as visitors stay away, fearful of crowded places following the new coronavirus outbreak being declared a national epidemic last Saturday.

In Hanoi, over 12,800 hotel bookings have been canceled, according to the city’s tourism department. Over 7,600 travelers have scrapped their tours to the capital city, while 6,000 Vietnamese terminated their plans to visit mainland China and Taiwan.

Tran Duc Hai, director of the Hanoi Tourism Department, said local tourist attractions across the city have seen customer numbers drop 30-50 percent.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam suspended flights to and from China starting last week, except for a limited number aimed to repatriate the remaining Chinese tourists in Vietnam, and vice versa.

Tran Quoc Pagoda in Hanoi is not crowded as before. Photo by VnExpress/Kieu Duong. 

Tran Quoc Pagoda in Hanoi is not crowded as before. Photo by VnExpress/Kieu Duong. 

Nguyen Hong Ha, deputy general director of Vietnam Airlines, said that the airline has stopped more than 30 daily direct flights to China, and adjusted its flight schedules for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Do Xuan Quang, deputy general director of budget carrier Vietjet Air, said all of its Vietnamese customers in China have now returned to the country. "This is a disaster for the aviation industry. As of Wednesday more than 40,000 flights between China and other countries in the world have stopped completely."

However, Quang also said that the situation facing Vietnam was "not too serious".

The number of confirmed nVoC infections in Vietnam had risen to 13 by the end of Friday. Three of the ten have been discharged from hospitals.

The global death toll from the epidemic has reached 724, with 722 dying in mainland China, one in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong.

The Vietnamese government has deployed various measures to combat the virus, including halting all flights to coronavirus-hit areassuspending visas for visitors from those regions, quarantining Chinese workers returning to Vietnam after the Lunar New Year holiday (Tet) and suspending spring festivals as well as temporarily closing schools.

Arrivals from China in January had increased 72.6 percent from a year ago to 644,700, the highest growth and accounting for one third of total foreign tourists during the first month of the new year, according to General Statistics Office.

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