The tourism industry needs more than vaccines to survive
The tourism industry, directly and indirectly, is believed to have a profound influence on socio-economic life in the central region for years.
This industry is under great pressure to survive, change or collapse due to the challenges brought on by Covid-19.
|A visitor poses for a photo on a beach in Danang town. – SGT Photo: Nhan Tam|
An unusually calm summer season
Around the same time last year, Danang’s tourism industry was busy with events and incentive programs throughout the summer, including the popular Fantastic Danang Festival 2020 which took place from July 30. to August 5. The city identified this as an opportunity to boost tourism, paving the way for restoring other economic areas such as transport, commerce, construction and banking in the context where the Covid-19 pandemic had been brought under control. In Vietnam.
Thanks to the programs, in June 2020, Danang welcomed more than 450,000 visitors. The number was expected to be much higher in July and August – the peak summer tourist season. Cao Tri Dung, chairman of the Danang Tourism Association (DATA), believed at the time that more and more tourists would come to the city until the end of the year because they wanted to travel after a long period of social distancing.
The tourism industry in other central provinces such as Quang Nam, Thua Thien-Hue and Binh Dinh was also pleased with the good news. Danang was the gateway, welcoming passenger flights from other places to the central region. Many travel agencies in Danang have taken the opportunity to invest in travel and transportation and accommodation services to serve tourists on the central road from Quang Binh to Binh Dinh.
However, everything deteriorated following the new Covid-19 epidemic in Danang from the evening of July 24, which spread to other localities. Danang was then locked up for over 30 days.
Danang then switched to operating rescue flights to bring thousands of tourists stranded in the city back to their hometowns.
“We have lost the high summer season. We can now only come back thanks to the holiday season and the New Year,” said Doan Hai Dang, president of the Danang Travel Association at the time.
However, the pandemic has become unpredictable and the tourism industry has continued to suffer across the country. According to statistics, in the first six months of 2021, revenue from tourism and related services reached only 322 billion dong, down more than 33% year-on-year.
Now the businesses are entering the second quiet summer season in a row, with no guests.
“I am very excited to welcome domestic tourists this summer, but what man offers, God disposes,” said Nguyen Ngoc Anh, director of Omega Tours. “The pandemic has broken out again. Customers have canceled or postponed their booked tours. Not all of our cars could be used for months. We don’t have a source of income, but we have a lot of expenses every day, from bank interest to taxes and maintenance costs, ”he said, adding that almost all travel agencies are in the business. same situation.
Accommodation establishments are also in an equally “tragic” situation. Almost four- and five-star resorts along the beach have to cut staff. During this time, many other small hotels have closed their doors for many months or have been sold.
According to statistics from the Danang Tourism Department, at the end of 2020, 38,717 of the 50,963 tourism workers were on leave. This year, until the end of June, 11,802 of the 24,248 tourism workers were forced to leave their jobs.
What the tourism industry in Danang is doing now is making alternative plans as it cannot yet receive visitors by air or road.
“In order to gradually warm up tourism activities in Danang, to help tourism businesses resume their activities, our department would coordinate with DATA to define solutions to restore tourism activities as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic is brought under control” said Nguyen Xuan. Binh, deputy director of the Danang tourism department.
Specifically, in addition to ensuring security, the Danang Tourism Department will coordinate with local districts to propose measures to develop agricultural and community tourism in certain destinations.
Local tourism: a lifeline?
Encouraging local residents to move is a possible option led by certain localities in the central region.
The YesHue Eco ecotourism zone in the mountainous Nam Dong district of Thua Thien-Hue province offers picnics for locals, including adults, students and children.
“It is a good choice to attract tourists who are residents of Thua Thien-Hue,” said Le Thi Kim Hang, director of YesHue Eco, adding that to ensure the health and safety of guests, it limits the number of guests per day, obliges. tourists to file health declarations, apart from other requirements, including asking guests to wear masks and wash their hands before entering the site. In addition, all of his associates have already been vaccinated.
YesHue Eco is one of the few tourism companies in the central province to implement the program called “Hue people travel to Hue”.
Thua Thien-Hue Tourism Association has proposed appropriate policies to boost tourism through lower prices and a combination of services.
Nguyen Hoang Thuy Vy, vice president of the association, said she is developing packages for clients who want to explore their hometown, from cooking to wellness services. The association also encourages seaside resorts in remote areas to promote packages such as swimming, convalescence, soaking in mineral water, swimming in streams and staying in resorts on weekends.
The companies also agreed that the province should exempt or reduce admission fees to heritage sites.
Regarding tourism trends, according to the Thua Thien-Hue Ministry of Tourism, the current trajectory of the pandemic is still unpredictable, so this summer, and possibly by the end of 2021, Thua Thien-Hue will not will only target local residents and partly those in safe areas.
However, some have said that the policy of “Hue residents traveling to Hue” or “residents traveling to their localities” in general is only a temporary solution.
First, locals only travel at certain times (weekends, summer, holidays, Tet, etc.). Second, not many local people travel, so very few travel agencies can serve them and they can even go on their own. In addition, few travel agencies (including accommodation, travel and tourist attractions) are reopening at this time due to the burden of operating costs, including human resources.
Another example is Hoi An City in Quang Nam Province. Data from the Quang Nam Tourism Association showed that around 90% of the city’s income comes from tourism, both directly and indirectly. Most tourists to Hoi An are foreigners or domestic guests from other parts of the country. As a result, the tourism industry here is almost exhausted.
One of the solutions offered by the Quang Nam Culture, Sports and Tourism Department is to encourage Quang Nam residents to visit destinations within Quang Nam. “A group of guests can travel in their private cars and spend the weekend at the resort,” suggested Le Ngoc Tuong, deputy director of the department.
However, many companies believe it is difficult to do so due to costs and ad hoc decisions by local government on blockages resulting from Covid-19 outbreaks.
It seems that in Quang Nam, there are some companies under the management of international companies which encourage the people of Quang Nam to visit Hoi An for tourism and relaxation, but only on weekends. Companies admit that this is only a temporary solution.
Vaccines and a new tourism ecosystem
“It is necessary to carry out vaccination campaigns as soon as possible and to think about a new way of attracting tourists,” said Phan Xuan Thanh, chairman of QTA. The businessman added that there should be a list of priority localities for vaccine allocations. Provinces that depend primarily on the tourism industry are examples.
“Whenever a few localities can accommodate domestic and international tourists, it means Vietnam’s tourism brand is still competitive,” Thanh said, adding that the government should allow those who come in close contact with Covid patients. 19 to be quarantined in hotels, instead of state-run isolation centers.
Thanh also agreed that a new tourism trend will be to adapt to Covid-19 in the future. Using his own company, Emic Hospitality, as an example, he said lean operations, a focus on core values, human resource training and new products are the way forward for him.
He also encouraged QTA member companies to join hands to better serve guests.
Regarding tourism in the new era, Nguyen Thanh Binh, vice president of Thua Thien Hue province, said that there must be a synchronous solution consisting of three stages. The first is to increase the popularity of safe destinations, which is consistently applied by the government to individual businesses, tourism service providers and the community. Second, it is about defining the target audience and the field of activity. In the immediate term, there are activities to attract national tourists, then interregional visitors. The third step has a long-term strategic solution to the new normal.
It is known that the Hue tourism industry has conducted surveys on tourism trends.
As a result, travelers have been found to prefer destinations that are close, safe and not too crowded, apart from reasonable prices.
In addition, wellness tourism associated with the natural environment and fitness, sports and healthy eating activities has also attracted the attention of tourists.
According to insiders, a new tourist ecosystem will soon form, associated with vaccines and tourism in the new normal (few people, ecology). And the central region will experience a peak summer tourist season in 2022. To adapt to the change, Thanh said businesses need to think about reinvesting.
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