Vietnam counts Q1 tourism damage inflicted by Covid-19

By Nguyen Quy   March 28, 2020 | 05:21 am PT
Vietnam counts Q1 tourism damage inflicted by Covid-19
The iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon's District 1 is left deserted, March 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Vietnam saw first-quarter foreign arrivals plummet as entry was restricted and tourism destinations closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The country welcomed nearly 3.7 million international tourists in the period, down 18.1 percent year-on-year, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Around 2.6 million Asians, who account for nearly 80 percent of total foreign arrivals, visited the country, down 21.1 percent.

The number of Chinese tourists, the biggest feeder market for Vietnamese tourism, was 871,000, down 32 percent from a year ago. Starting February 1, Vietnam suspended all flights to and from China where the Covid-19 pandemic originated.

Around 819,000 South Koreans, the second biggest feeder market, visited Vietnam, down 26 percent. From late February, the Vietnamese government canceled many flights from Vietnam to South Korea and suspended visa-free travel for South Koreans, one of the countries hit hardest by Covid-19 at that time.

The number of Q1 European visitors to Vietnam was 664,000, down 3.1 percent from a year ago.

In March alone, the number of foreign tourists to Vietnam was 449,000, down 63.8 percent from the previous month and 68.1 percent from a year ago.

All popular tourist destinations in the country have been closed since mid-March while bars and most other entertainment facilities around the country were shut down from Saturday until April 15 on the Prime Minister’s orders, with the country entering a critical stage in its Covid-19 fight. 

All restaurants and coffee shops in Hanoi are closed until April 15 to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy. 

All restaurants and coffee shops in Hanoi are closed until April 15 to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy. 

Small and big hotels have shut down, and more than 100 have offered to become paid quarantine zones.

Europe is at now an epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic, prompting the government to suspend entry for all foreign nationals starting March 22, including those of Vietnamese origin and family members with visa waivers, and stop all international flights from March 25 in an unprecedented move in the country.

Only Vietnamese nationals and foreigners having diplomatic and official passports such as business managers, experts and high-skilled workers will be allowed to enter the country at this time, and all entrants will be quarantined for 14 days.

Vietnam has so far recorded 174 Covid-19 infections and discharged 21 after treatment so far. Many of active cases are Vietnamese nationals retuning from Europe and the U.S. and foreigners coming from the same regions.

The coronavirus pandemic has struck at a time Vietnam was enjoying a tourism boom, with visitor numbers last year growing 16.2 percent year-on-year to a record high of 18 million. The United Nations World Tourism Organization had placed Vietnam seventh among world’s 10 fastest-growing tourist destinations.

Vietnam had targeted welcoming 20.5 million international visitors and 90 million domestic travelers this year, generating VND830 trillion ($35.6 billion) in tourism revenues, according to the national tourism administration.

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