More than 230 tour boats at Tuan Chau Port in Ha Long Bay have been left idle due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Nguyen Xuan Binh said his crew members took turns to look after the boat. Since the Tet holidays they have only done a few trips while normally, they would have at least one trip a day during this time of the year. The same situation can be observed at other boats docked at the port.
Nguyen Phi Cuong from Quang Ninh Inland Waterway Port Authority at Tuan Chau said that the number of visitors to Ha Long Bay had dropped by 80% since the outbreak started.
"Normally, Tuan Chau Port received 7,000 to 8,000 passengers with 400-500 boats a day. But these numbers dropped to 2,000 passengers with 150 boats. Some boats haven't had any guests for a whole week," Cuong said.
Vu Manh Long, head of Quang Ninh Inland Waterway Port Authority said two-thirds of the boats had failed to find customers but they still had to pay wages and maintenance fees or else it would be very difficult to recruit new employees once the outbreak ends.
Nguyen Hong Minh, a boat owner, said, "We still pay wages for everyone. But because of the lack of customers, the crew members are assigned shifts to stay at the boat. Other people can visit their families. Staying at the boat for a long is tiring too."
According to the crewmembers, their monthly wages are VND3m (USD130) to VND4m which can't support their families. They earned more from other services on the boat so everyone hopes that the outbreak will end soon.
"The boat owners are very reasonable to still pay us a monthly wage. We understand and just hope for the end of the outbreak," said Nguyen Xuan Binh.
Au Lac Quang Ninh Company, manager of Tuan Chau Port, agreed to lower some port service fees by 20% including anchoring, security and opening office services from February 1 until the outbreak ends.
Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien has stressed the need to develop a set of travel safety standards to develop the tourism sector, which has suffered since the outbreak of COVID-19.
The Ministry of Planning and Investmetn (MPI) estimates that Vietnam’s tourism sector may lose $2.3 billion worth of revenue from foreign investors if Covid-19 lasts until the end of Q1 and $5 billion if it continues through Q2.