Tourist attractions close as industry tries to survive
Many tourist destinations have temporarily stopped receiving guests, and visitors from many countries in Europe no longer enjoy visa waivers.
The drastic measures taken by the government of Vietnam to stop the spread of coronavirus, plus the information about the increased number of infection cases, all have inflicted blows on the tourism industry which is struggling to survive the epidemic.
Travel firms said the closure of tourist attractions, including Ha Long Bay, Bai Tu Long, Cat Ba Island, Cham Isle, Ly Son Island, Con Dao relics and Con Phung in Ben Tre province, has pushed the tourism industry into a new recession period.
When the coronavirus began and travel firms lost Chinese travelers, they were optimistic as they still could receive travelers from Europe. However, with the number of infection cases skyrocketing in South Korea, Italy nd Germany, the doors to potential markets have been closed.
|The drastic measures taken by the government of Vietnam to stop the spread of coronavirus, plus the information about the increased number of infection cases, all have inflicted blows on the tourism industry which is struggling to survive the epidemic.|
“We are nearly losing 100 percent of travelers. All activities are nearly frozen” said Tu Quy Thanh, director of Lien Bang Travelink, on March 11.
Foreign travelers have canceled inbound tours with departure days from now to September 2020, while Vietnamese travelers have canceled outbound tours to June.
As for domestic tours, travel firms still can receive bookings before March 7 from young families thanks to the good prices. However, after the No 17 infection case was announced on March 7, clients have canceled all the tours.
Some travel firms which specialize in serving European travelers reported that partners have canceled tours for March and April, because beginning on March 12, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, British, German, French and Spanish travelers no longer can enjoy visa waivers.
“The tourism industry is closing the door,” said Pham Ha, CEO of Luxury Travel Group.
Bui Viet Thuy Tien, CEO of Asian Trails Co, also said that travel firms are facing big difficulties.
“Travelers cancel tours these days. The clients planning to come to Hanoi to watch F1 race slated for early April have also canceled tours,” Tien said.
The manager of a HCM City-based travel firm said he tried to design tours with low costs to stimulate demand.
“Even when you slash the tour fees, people still won’t travel these days. If they travel, there is another risk that they get infected with coronavirus. If so, it will be very risky to settle the problems,” he said. “So, what we can do is wait until the epidemic is contained. "
Thanh of Lien Bang Travelink shares the same view, saying that travel firms need support from the government.
“I have received a notice from the General Department of Taxation about the 5-month extension of tax payment. However, what I want is tax reduction, not tax payment delay. I need to use the money to maintain our operation,” he said.
The Mekong Delta and southern islands like Phu Quoc and Con Dao are dominating domestic tour bookings as COVID-19 cases rise elsewhere in Vietnam.
The local tourism sector is under immense pressure as two major cruise lines, Princess Cruises and Viking, have stopped operating their cruise ships globally. Cruise ships have become coronavirus hotspots throughout the world.