Tourism is the economic sector most severely affected by the global pandemic. Especially in Vietnam, when the local tourism businesses showed signs of recovery in nearly 3 months since the end of social lockdown, they are now in a state of exhaustion when COVID-19 suddenly returns to Vietnam from the end of July.
On the afternoon of August 7, the General Department of Tourism held an online conference titled “Removing difficulties for the tourism industry” with the participation of businesses (enterprises) tourism, aviation, tourism associations of provinces and cities.
Vietnamese officials said that the domestic tourism industry is still suffering a “punch” when Vietnam suffers from the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of tourists cancel the tour up to 95%-100% at the end of July and August – two peak months of domestic tourism.
Travel companies suffered heavy losses due to a series of customers canceling the tour and claiming refund, while the policy of the airlines only allowed back the deposit, not refund. Airlines delay cancellation up to 180 days, but popular psychology of customers is afraid of, no longer willing to travel.
General Director of the General Department of Tourism Nguyen Trung Khanh said that fear has caused many tourists to cancel tours not only to the pandemic area but even the area that has not been affected. Many localities across the country have to announce the speed of closing many attractions, resorts, suspending entertainment services … to ensure safety for tourists and residents.
According to the Hanoi Department of Tourism, from July 28 to August 4, more than 30,000 visitors of 33 travel companies in Hanoi canceled domestic tours. Some big tour operators like Vietrantour had about 3,500 guests canceling tours, causing damage of about VND21 billion; The Hanoitourist company has about 5,000 guests canceling the tour, losing about VND30 billion. Room capacity at 3 to 5 star hotels in Hanoi is only about 22%.
Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism also said preliminary the city has more than 35,000 travel programs of big companies canceled.
The Vietnam Transport Marketing & Tourism Joint Stock Company – Vietravel, the leading tourism company in Vietnam, said the number of tourists who canceled the tour as of August 5 was 22,302, causing a loss of VND102 billion.
According to the report of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, the gloomy tourism market resulted in 137 international travel companies applying for revocation, up nearly three times over the same period. Many workers in the tourism industry fall into the situation of losing their jobs.
When the epidemic was partially controlled, in May 2020, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism quickly launched the program “Vietnamese tour Vietnam” to boost domestic tourism demand. This program has been responded by businesses, associations and localities and has shown positive signs.
Some tourist sites that have advantages in domestic tourists in the summer such as Da Lat and Sa Pa are gradually crowded.
In early July 2020, the tourist destinations associated with the sea launched many promotions for domestic tourists and the positive signals were evident in Phu Quoc, Vung Tau, Phan Thiet, Nha Trang, Quy Nhon, Sam Son, Lang Co, Ha Long …
The Hanoi Department of Tourism said that in July 2020, the number of visitors to the capital reached nearly 1.2 million, up 51.2% compared to June.
In Danang alone, information from the Department of Tourism said that after a month of implementing the tourism demand stimulus program “Danang Thank You,” the total number of tourists coming to the city in June was estimated at 454,764 arrivals, an increase of 85% with May.
Vietnam’s tourism industry is seeing positive signs of revival to fend off the consequences of the first infection, the second wave of outbreaks appearing in Danang has pushed businesses to the brink.
According to journalist Gia Quan, the punch that the tourism industry is suffering cruelly, can be visualized as a chain of debt collection. It makes sense for customers to get money back from the travel agency that booked the tour, since they don’t know when they can arrange an appropriate time to change another tour.
And the travel company is quite difficult to collect the debt of the partner, ask for money for a party from the restaurant, ask for money from the hotel, ask for money from the airline? Then no one wants to cover up or cheat, but in general, any head jerking to cover is not smooth. As a result, travel agencies stand between two rounds of bullets, one for customers and the other for service providers.
Director of Federal Travel Company Tu Quy Thanh shared the situation of his company as follows: His company has about 80% of the number of tourists canceling the tour and because of wanting to keep its reputation, the company is required to refund 100% of the tour value with reserve capital is increasingly exhausted. Because the airline ticket deposit fee is very large but can not be taken out to be able to refund the tour for guests.
The company has to deposit 1,000 airline tickets, an average of VND1 million/ticket. When the passenger cancels the tour, the airline will not refund the ticket prices but only reschedule. Only for the flight ticket deposit, the company spent VND1 billion dong but could not get it out. Restaurant services, hotels, garages …, each company partner also deposits 30%, because in the summer peak, there are places that suggest up to 50% deposit.
Fortunately, thanks to the Department of Tourism and the local Tourism Association, they promptly encouraged the partners to share difficulties with travel agencies. Thanks to that, up to now, about 80% of service partners have agreed to refund the deposit to Mr. Thanh’s company. However, it took a month or two for his company to get the deposit back, but it was better than nothing. Travel businesses are like a chef who chooses ingredients to be processed into delicious dishes for tourists but now falls into a difficult battle.
Tourism businesses are believed to have suffered first and lastly recovered during the corona pandemic.
Before the second infection of COVID-19 in Vietnam, the General Department of Tourism reports that up to 95% of international travel service businesses across the country stopped operating, of which 137 were international travel business applied for permit withdrawal.
According to statistics of HCM City Department of Tourism, in the tourism sector, nearly 90% of businesses have to stop operating; the rest work in moderation, mainly handling backlog. In the accommodation sector, the 3-5 star hotels have given their employees unpaid leave or terminated their contracts with up to 80% -90%. For 1-2 star hotels, the staff is in a similar situation or is completely laid off.
The development of the disease is so complicated that the tourism industry cannot predict anything. If doing well as expected, by the end of August, the Covid-19 pandemic will be controlled, then gradually recover. However, the difficult thing is that the summer is over, the peak of the domestic tourism season is over. The end of the year is the low season, businesses just hope to hold on. If everything is fine, it is expected that in the next Lunar New Year holiday, from 2021 onwards, the tourism industry would speed up.
That means that in the most ideal scenario, the difficulty of the tourism industry will last until 2021 if Vietnam does as well in the prevention of epidemics as phase 1. However, look at the reality, when the epidemic stops, the economy is exhausted. People have to worry about minimum needs such as food and drink in order to survive, how to think about traveling, so the difficulty of the smoke-free industry will definitely last longer.
So in the present, how to solve the difficulties for businesses?
The first thing that the tourism industry has been implementing is calling for a spirit of cooperation, sharing and companionship with businesses and tourists.
Service providers should try to support travel companies as much as possible because they currently have no money left.
On the tourist side, perhaps there should be a campaign for them to sympathize and share, not asking for money immediately but moving the tour to another location, another time. If not, it will push businesses into a dead end. Only sympathy and sharing from many parties can help businesses recover.