Travel firms prepare for tourism revival, seek gov't support

By Lan Huong   September 15, 2021 | 05:00 pm PT
Travel firms prepare for tourism revival, seek gov't support
A group of French tourists visit the capital of Hanoi in February, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Phong Vinh
Travel firms are optimistic as Vietnam eyes a tourism revival with vaccinated foreigners visiting specific destinations, but say they need financial and policy support to overcome financial crises.

A representative of leading property firm Sun Group who did not want to be named said they expect the revival of the tourism industry after the government approved a pilot plan allowing fully vaccinated tourists to visit Phu Quoc Island from October.

The group runs a series of luxury hotels and resorts across Vietnam.

Since the fourth coronavirus wave began in late April, the firm's tourist resorts and hotels temporarily suspended operations. Recognizing that difficulties and challenges posed by the pandemic are inevitable, the company has prepared plans to resume operations when the government approves, the rep said.

They have upgraded all hotels, resorts and amusement parks across the country, developed new products, trained human resources, and strengthened pandemic prevention measures to better serve tourists as the tourism industry reopens, he added.

Leading travel firm Vietravel has also mapped out plans to resume operations in the coming time with all staff fully vaccinated.

Huynh Phan Phuong Hoang, deputy general director of Vietravel, said that in addition to serving Vietnamese tourists going on domestic tours, the company will target the inbound market, serving foreign experts and repatriated overseas Vietnamese eligible to enter to Vietnam.

The company's carrier Vietravel Airlines has obtained an international flight license. When the tourism market resumes, the airline expects to carry out charter flights with promotional prices.

Oxalis Adventure, the only private company licensed to explore and conduct tours to the world’s largest cave Son Doong, has prepared plans to become one of the first enterprises to meet safe criteria for Covid-19.

So far, 80 percent of its staff have been fully vaccinated while 20 percent got first dose of Covid-19 vaccine. In addition, the company also deployed vaccination for porters and other related forces to ensure safety for tourists.

Currently, 600 people have registered for the exploration tour to Son Doong in 2022, 60 percent of total permitted visitors. Authorities in Quang Binh, where the cave is situated, had decided earlier that entry tickets to many of its famous caves including the world's largest, Son Doong, would be cut by half from next year to stimulate tourism.

Financial crisis

After two years and four coronavirus waves, most travel firms say they are in financial crises and need government support to overcome it.

Pham Ha, chairman of major travel company Lux Group, said the biggest difficulty for travel companies now was capital and human resources. Facing the fourth wave of Covid-19, businesses do not have any cash flow. Therefore, pandemic-affected companies need government interventions in the form of loan packages at lower interest rates, tax cuts and waiver of social insurance premiums, he added.

Around 95 percent of travel firms have shut down due to the pandemic and thousands of tourism workers have switched to other jobs to make ends meet. Ha said he was also worried about a shortage of human resources when the tourism industry resumes operations.

Ha said the reopening of vaccinated foreign tourists to Phu Quoc was a good sign for the tourism industry, but he wanted the government to map out detailed plans in the shortest time to help travel companies to deploy new tourism products and attract visitors.

"Though October is always the peak season for international tourists, more things need to be done to attract them to return to Vietnam," he said.

The Sun Group representative also urged the government to speed up vaccination in popular tourist hotspots like Da Nang, Phu Quoc, Hue, Hoi An, Ha Long and Sa Pa so that herd immunity can be achieved soon. He said this was key to reopening the country to foreign tourists and saving the tourism industry from a crisis.

The government closed the country's borders and canceled all international flights in March 2020. As a result, Vietnam recorded a 79 percent year-on-year drop in the number of foreign visitors in 2020, welcoming just 3.83 million as against a record 18 million in 2019, according to official data.

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