Mui Ne - Ham Tien Beach sees a small number of tourists. ảnh 1

Mui Ne - Ham Tien Beach sees a small number of tourists.

Da Lat City in Lam Dong Province is commonly known as the 'City of a Thousand Flowers' and the 'Land of Cherry Blossoms.' It boasts a cool climate and serves as the sole heat refuge in the entire Southern region of Vietnam.

This charming city typically draws in a significant number of domestic and foreign tourists.

However, Da Lat City is currently oddly devoid of tourists. In the Northern region, the 'tourist hub', Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site, is experiencing a similar lack of tourists.

Musty and moldy accommodations

In recent times, the influx of visitors to Da Lat has significantly dwindled compared to previous years. In the city's central streets, there are no longer scenes of local traffic congestion or overwhelming demand for dining and transportation services.

Instead, the streets have become more open, even on weekends. During the summer and the recent National Day holiday, the number of tourists in Da Lat has seen a significant drop. With the reduced tourist numbers, accommodation facilities have fallen into a state of distress.

Nguyen Thi Vinh Hanh, the owner of an accommodation facility in Ward 3, Da Lat City, has mentioned, "Previously, during weekends, rooms needed to be booked well in advance, but now they are readily available, and weekends no longer witness the full room occupancy as in the past.

Unoccupied rooms are susceptible to dampness, mold, and deterioration, resulting in increased maintenance expenses. In addition, we need to tend to the garden constantly, maintaining plants and flowers to create a pleasant environment for our guests."

Numerous leased lodging establishments are facing increased challenges in their struggle for survival. Thai Ha, the manager of a tourist villa in Ward 9, Da Lat City, expressed his concerns, stating that every month, the rent for the property alone exceeds VND60 million for the 12-room villa.

When taking into account staff salaries, utilities, and garden maintenance, he added that the situation becomes even more precarious, as there are few guests, with only a few individuals visiting on weekends, and virtually none during the weekdays.

It is not just small lodging establishments; even larger hotels are experiencing a similar scenario. The occupancy rate of Dalat Palace Hotel, a 5-star establishment with 70 rooms, a spacious and exquisite garden, and a prime location in the heart of Da Lat City, from the beginning of the year until now, has only reached around 50 percent.

Mr. Tran Quoc Hung, Deputy General Director of the Royal Da Lat Joint Stock Company, which operates the Dalat Palace Hotel, has indicated that the decline in guest numbers began in March 2023, and this trend continued through the National Reunification Day holiday. As a result, they had to reduce shifts in some departments due to the lack of guests.

It has been observed that in renowned tourist areas and destinations in Da Lat, there is a noticeable decline in the number of visitors, and the parking lots no longer witness overloading.

Despite Dalat Tourist Company frequently implementing promotions and discounts for experiential service packages at the Datanla Waterfall tourist area, the visitor count remains lower than before.

Likewise, in the network of tourist destinations across Da Lat City and Lac Duong District overseen by Dalat Tourist Company, a significant decline in visitor numbers has been recorded.

Mr. Nguyen Nhat Vu, Deputy General Director of Dalat Tourist Company, stated that from the start of the year until the end of October, the count of Vietnamese visitors to the tourist areas under the company's management approached 1.5 million. Nevertheless, this figure has witnessed a 50 percent decrease compared to previous periods.

According to Mr. Nguyen Nhat Vu, Da Lat is encountering competition from neighboring areas, particularly Phan Thiet.

"The Southern provinces and cities are the primary source of visitors for Da Lat. However, with the completion of the Phan Thiet - Dau Giay Expressway, transportation has become more accessible. Meanwhile, Lam Dong Province has experienced heavy rainfall this year, and localized incidents of landslides and flooding have created reservations among tourists, making them reluctant to visit Da Lat," commented Mr. Vu.

Ha Long Bay in hibernation

These days, Ha Long Bay, the renowned tourist destination in the North, appears abandoned. The once bustling coastal road, usually teeming with vehicles, is now devoid of traffic.

Even the picturesque Bai Chay coastal area witnesses only a sparse scattering of individual cars pausing briefly for photographs before continuing their journey.

Stores and eateries are shuttered. By noon, at Minh Phi Restaurant, situated on a prominent street in Ha Long, the three expansive dining areas accommodate just a little over a dozen customers.

Many restaurants and hotels in Ha Long Bay have to shut down due to the lack of tourists. ảnh 2

Many restaurants and hotels in Ha Long Bay have to shut down due to the lack of tourists.

The cashier, who also served as a waitress, shared that she moved from Bac Giang to Ha Long to start a business with her husband over a decade ago. Besides an eatery catering to casual customers in Ha Khau Ward, right at the entrance of Ha Long City, they also opened a 500-customer capacity restaurant to serve tourists.

"However, business has been quite dull this summer; it was bustling for only one month, and after that, the customer numbers significantly declined," she lamented.

Reflecting on the 'golden time' before the Covid-19 pandemic, during this period, the restaurant employed over 100 people. Although the staff was substantially reduced last year, there were still around 30-40 employees.

Now, there are only two head chefs and four service staff. "Many large hotels and restaurants in the city even have to put up 'For Sale' signs," she mentioned.

At the Tuan Chau International Passenger Terminal in Quang Ninh, the waiting area is spacious, yet only a few small groups of passengers are seated, patiently waiting for the guide to finalize the boarding preparations.

Mr. Mai Trung Hieu, Head of the Marketing Department at the Tuan Chau - Ha Long tourist area, analyzed that after the National Day holiday, the absence of customers occurred as expected. However, this year witnessed a 30-40 percent decrease in the number of domestic visitors to this location.

Chinese tourists are gradually returning, resulting in a slight uptick in the number of guests staying on weekends. Nevertheless, overall room occupancy remains subdued, down by 20-30 percent compared to the same period last year.

According to the representative of the 5-star cruise service provider in Ha Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay, luxury cruises at this time have also observed the return of international visitors from countries such as India, Russia, Spain, and China, but the numbers are still limited, reaching only about 20-30 percent compared to before the pandemic.

Furthermore, domestic tourists, typically regarded as the "saviors" of the tourism industry during the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly those arriving from Ho Chi Minh City and numerous Southern provinces to Ha Long, make up only one-fifth of last year's figures this year.

Consequently, the fleet of cruise ships is currently operating at a moderate level rather than the bustling activity observed in previous times.

Meanwhile, data from Sun World Ha Long reveals a recovery of over 60 percent compared to 2019. To boost attraction, several Sun World amusement parks are introducing ticket prices as low as VND150,000 per person, valid until the end of 2023. Despite many hotels and resorts lowering service prices by 10-20 percent, the ambiance remains subdued.

"This year is more challenging than any previous year. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, it was not as tough," shared a business owner engaged in substantial tourism investments across the country.

Mui Ne, Nha Trang: Hotels and resorts struggle

During this season in the years prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Mui Ne - Ham Tien area had virtually no vacancies for domestic guests due to the influx of international visitors. However, this year's peak tourism season is marked by a notable absence of international guests and a scarcity of domestic visitors.

The owner of Little Muine Cottages Resort shared that his resort has approximately 80 rooms, and the room occupancy rate on weekends is about 20-30 percent, while on weekdays, it is only 10-20 percent, mainly with domestic guests. For foreign guests, he considers himself fortunate if he manages to rent out 2-3 rooms a day.

Similarly, Mr. Tran Anh Thi, CEO of Seahorse Resort & Spa, mentioned that the number of foreign tourists during this year's peak season has drastically declined. "Currently, the percentage of international guests staying at the resort is only around 6-7 percent, compared to the 2017-2018 period," Mr. Thi shared.

Due to low demand, many tourism businesses in Mui Ne - Ham Tien are struggling to maintain their workforce and cover operational costs. In Nha Trang, several hotels are reporting a considerable number of vacant rooms. "For the past three months, hotels have been operating at only 50 percent room capacity due to a decrease in tourist numbers compared to the same period last year," stated Mr. Tran An, the owner of a 4-star hotel on Tran Phu Street.

Several hotels on Tran Phu Street also report available rooms, even though the accommodation prices in these places are only half of what they were before the pandemic.

According to Mrs. Nguyen Thi Le Thanh, Director of the Department of Tourism of Khanh Hoa Province, the figure of 6.2 million visitors for the first ten months of 2023 is still relatively low compared to the period before the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the tourism potential and service capacity of the Nha Trang - Khanh Hoa tourism industry are substantial.

Source: SGGP