Vietnamese tourism hubs wary of Chinese tourists

By Nguyen Dong, Nguyen Nam   January 28, 2020 | 06:27 am PT
Vietnamese tourism hubs wary of Chinese tourists
An aerial view of Da Nang beach with many boats docking at Son Tra Peninsula. Photo by Shutterstock/Tang Trung Kien.
New coronavirus fears have prompted Vietnam's top destinations Da Nang, Khanh Hoa and Lao Cai to turn their backs on Chinese tourists.

Truong Hong Hanh, director of the Da Nang Department of Tourism, said on Tuesday travel firms have temporarily stopped taking in Chinese customers. The department told them not to take Vietnamese tourists to areas where there have been outbreaks or bring people from there.

The city plans to find new sources of tourists to offset the declining number of visitors coming from coronavirus-infected regions.

Chinese officials said on Tuesday the acute nCoV has claimed 106 lives and infected more than 4,500. 

Colonel Tran Dinh Lien, deputy director of the Danang Police Department, said the police have been working with border guard and customs personnel to closely monitor incoming visitors and isolate individuals with symptoms of pneumonia.

She warned that anyone spreading false information about the virus could face criminal charges.

Previously, Danang Riverside Hotel on Tran Hung Dao Street had stopped receiving guests from China to protect the safety of its staff and other guests.

"We are canceling the reservation and refunding even if people have booked two months in advance," Pham Thanh, director of the four-star hotel, said.

The famous Da Nang Cathedral on Tran Phu Street, which draws thousands of foreign tourists (mostly Chinese and Korean) every day, has been closed to tourists because of the "outbreak of the coronavirus," according to its website. A spokesperson said it would reopen when the health department sounds an all-clear.

Beating Asian metropolises like Tokyo, Seoul and Bangkok, Da Nang City in central Vietnam is the most popular 2020 travel destination, Google data shows.

Tran Viet Trung, director of Khanh Hoa's Department of Tourism, said to prevent the virus from spreading China has suspended the operations of tourism firms.

"Businesses serving Chinese tourists in Khanh Hoa will also suspend operations from today (January 28)."

Between January 23 and 26 the central province received 165,000 visitors, 56,000 of them foreigners, including 29,000 Chinese.

Trung added: "There were 34 flights from China to Cam Ranh Airport (in Khanh Hoa) on Monday. It is forecast that the number of visitors from China will drop significantly."

Tour companies in Khanh Hoa are only serving visitors from China who arrived until last Thursday, who will all fly back not later than the end of January.

Khanh Hoa is home to Nha Trang, which ranked third among top five Southeast Asian beach destinations favored by Chinese tourists in 2018, according to China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Ha Van Thang, director of Lao Cai's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said travel companies have been ordered to suspend tours to infected areas.

The tourism associations of Lao Cai, Sa Pa and Bac Ha have warned businesses off bringing foreign tourists through the Lao Cai international border gate and told them to come up with new products to replace cross-border tourism.

Hoang Van Tuyen, director of the Lao Cai International Tourism Joint Stock Company and president of the Lao Cai Tourism Association, said, "This year, because of the nCoV pneumonia, the number of tourists traveling through the Lao Cai border gate has fallen by 99 percent."

The northern province of Lao Cai is one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist destinations as it is home to resort town Sa Pa.

Tan Son Nhat International Airport staff in HCMC checks the temperatures of incoming passengers. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Nguyen.

Tan Son Nhat International Airport staff in HCMC checks the temperatures of incoming passengers. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Nguyen.

In Vietnam, a Chinese father and son duo are the only confirmed cases of infection so far. The son had recovered by Tuesday morning while the father was still on a ventilator and remained in quarantine.

The nCoV virus has spread from mainland China to Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong, the U.S., Singapore, Malaysia, France, Canada, Germany and Vietnam.

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