Localities need to reopen soon to receive travelers from other provinces but they need to develop consistent regulations.
Deputy General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) Ha Van Sieu said that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused serious consequences to Vietnam's tourism, bringing it back to the level of 30 years ago.
Tourism is the most vulnerable service sector and has had to wait for the recovery of other sectors.
In Lao Cai province, according to the provincial Director of the Department for Culture, Sports and Tourism, the locality never announced the closure of tourism activities, but it still has not received travelers from other provinces and other countries. The 1,300 accommodations, 34 travel firms and 30,000 workers in the industry have been seriously affected.
In 2019, the province received 5.5 million foreign travelers and had revenue of VND20 trillion. It expects to receive only 1.2 million travelers this year with turnover of VND3.8 trillion.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also dealt a strong blow to travel firms. Vietravel CEO Tran Doan The Duy said the company served 1 million travelers in 2019 and earned VND7 trillion in revenue. Meanwhile, the number of travelers it has served this year is just one tenth of that amount, similar to 10 years ago.
Half of the 40 offices in the country and six overseas offices have stopped operation, while 90 percent of the 1,700 workers have had to take unpaid leave.
All localities and travel firms want to resume tourism activities. However, there is a problem which makes this impossible – the lack of cooperation and connection among localities, zones and firms.
Dang Anh Tuan from Vietnam Airlines, the national flag air carrier, said that each locality sets safety regulations of its own, which makes it difficult for the air carrier to design its products and explain to passengers.
Lam Hai Giang, Deputy Chair of Binh Dinh province, also thinks the problem now is the lack of connections among localities and travel firms. Connections plays a very important role in recovering the economy in general and tourism in particular.
If each locality sets its own regulations, the tourism sector won't be able to recover.
Tourism has reopened in localities, but only to internal travelers. It is a highly inter-regional and inter-sectorial industry, and won't be able to develop if it just relies on internal travelers.
Duy from Vietravel said localities need to “shake off the fears about Covid-19” and soon reopen their doors to travelers from other provinces. It's necessary to issue consistent regulations so as to attract travelers and businesses.
The outbreak has been gradually controlled, which is good news for the tourism sector. The Government has switched from a 'zero Covid' strategy to 'living together with the pandemic'. Provinces and cities have opened doors to travelers from green zones, and airlines have reopened domestic air routes.
Localities have reopened to domestic travelers, while Phu Quoc plans to receive foreign travelers. They are following the principle of “reopening anywhere it's safe”.
HCM City, for example, has provided tours to the green zones of Can Gio and Cu Chi, while it plans to open a closed tour HCM City – Cu Chi – Ba Den Mountain in Tay Ninh before considering tours to the central region.
Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, Director of the HCM City Tourism Department, stressed that tourism won't succeed if localities don't open to travelers from other provinces, and HCM City will reactivate the connections with 40 cities and provinces.
Quang Nam province said it will cooperate with other localities, including neighboring provinces and Da Nang, Hue, HCM City and Hanoi. It's expected that it will open to travelers from all over the country by December and foreign travelers in a selective way.
Binh Dinh province has also reopened many activities since October 15, 2021, including tourism and accommodation service with the capacity of no more than 50 percent.
The province has prioritized vaccinating tourism workers and giving full vaccinations to people in Phuong Mai peninsula to help safely receive travelers. It is building a plan to receive foreign travelers who come on chartered flights.
According to Quang Ninh provincialTourism Department Director Pham Ngoc Thuy, the top concern is that localities may have to close soon after they reopen because of new pandemic outbreaks.
The solution to this problem is providing updated information to travelers to help them overcome fears.
"If travelers still have fears, it'll be impossible to develop tourism even though localities reopen their doors," he said.
A survey by Vietnam Airlines found that most travelers want tours to the sea and mountains. Many Vietnamese are willing to go to newly discovered areas.
Take action quickly but safely
At a working session with the leaders of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST), VNAT and Ministry of Health (MOH) on the reopening of tourism activities, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam stressed that the reopening must strictly follow the Government's Resolution 128.
Many people traveling poses a high risk. Dam asked MCST to immediately issue a legal document on the criteria to adapt safely and effectively control tourism activities, including means of transport; measures to ensure safety at excursion sites, and accommodation and service facilities; and the testing and handling of infection cases.
The Ministry of Transport (MOT) has been asked to urgently set regulations on transportation activities.
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