Tourism industry struggling to survive

(Saigon Investment) - The third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic suddenly occurred when the Tet Lunar New Year was about to be begin across the country. This seriously jeopardized the travel of thousands of Vietnamese and subsequently affected the tourism industry which took an extremely hard hit. 
Epidemic prevention guiding for tourists.
Epidemic prevention guiding for tourists.

Besides facing huge revenue losses, the entire psyche of the travel industry has also been negatively impacted. However, many believe that the current negative scenario will soon be over and life will be back to normal again.

Abrupt cancellations

Ms. Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc, Deputy Director of Lam Dong Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, shared that it is heartbreaking to see hotels that expected to fill 100% of their rooms during the Tet Lunar New Year holiday season, had to abruptly accept total cancellations from prospective customers.  Ms. Ngoc believes that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a huge negative blow to the entire tourism industry, and with it the effects are also destroying its related industries, such as food and catering, transportation, and travel guides, as the ripples are being felt in all units associated with the travel industry.

Sharing this same point of view, Mr. Nguyen Chanh Duy, Director of Buon Ma Thuot Airport, said that they were preparing a joyous program to welcome the first guest to land in Buon Ma Thuot on the first day of Tan Suu Lunar Year, but at the last minute had to sadly cancel the entire program. Mr. Duy said that the welcome program was to have been a part of a strategy to increase and attract more tourists in 2021, from across the northern provinces to Dak Lak. According to Mr. Le Van Hoa, Deputy Director of Khanh Hoa Department of Culture and Sports, by cancelling so many cultural programs in the first days of the Tet Lunar New Year, a number of tourists coming to Nha Trang coastal city also cancelled their plans.

Mr. Pham Van Ngoc, Director of Viet Tin Crocodile Leather Fashion Company in Nha Trang City, said for businesses that are still operating in the tourism industry, the problem at the current time is how to increase revenue and stay afloat, as businesses have already done a lot of cost cutting in 2020 and reduced their expenses substantially. However, now businesses have two options, either to keep business on hold and wait for the market to recover completely, or continue running their business more selectively and much more flexibly.

Mr. Le Van Hoa said that sometimes we look at a large percentage of hotels that had to shut down and feel sad about it, but it is also necessary to acknowledge the great efforts of many travel agencies and hotels that are still struggling to stay afloat. Mr. Hoa gave the example of Nha Trang where in ordinary times it was easy to find a hotel with conference facilities for 500 guests, but now the choice has narrowed down, because the demand for travel, accommodation and tourism has decreased, or even discontinued.

More solutions needed

Recently, when speaking with shareholders and investors, a representative of a real estate company proudly said that their hotel often had an occupancy rate of above 80%, a figure that can stun many people in the current pandemic scenario. However, the figure given was not entirely incorrect as that particular hotel registered as a paid quarantine facility, although to get approval an extreme rigorous review is required from regulators.

Ms. Nguyen Tu Anh, General Manager of the Anatole Hotel in Hanoi, said that the Covid-19 pandemic has put a lot of pressure on hotels to resolve problems of costing very urgently. In the past, when room capacity was at 60% to 80%, there was no worry about costing. However, in the current scenario, managers realize that in order for their hotel to survive they need to focus on two aspects. Firstly, the staff must be able to multi-task, such as the receptionist on one work-shift could also help serve at tables on a second work-shift. Secondly, even though a person does extra hours and extra work, the quality of the work cannot be compromised. Even though the room rate is cheaper now, that does not mean that the hotel service quality should go down.

According to Mr. Nguyen Chanh Duy, although the number of passengers may fluctuate, the service quality of the airport must continue to be maintained, and even made better. This is also the reason why Buon Ma Thuot airport always has a steady flow of passengers. Mr. Duy has told his staff very firmly that the passenger is the person who pays the salary and it is the responsibility of all airport staff to ensure that the passengers get the best service at all times.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc, at a management agency, said that they were actively  looking for solutions to support agencies in the tourism industry, by way of looking for more sustainable solutions and strategies to encourage businesses to participate, so when the pandemic is finally wiped out worldwide, the tourism industry will be able to make a quick recovery.

In dealing with the difficult current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, the importance of cooperation for local tourism has become an important solution to increase the number of domestic tourists. Localities have sat together to define typical, suitable and attractive products of each region, to avoid competing with similar products. The joint cooperation for tourism development between Ho Chi Minh City and eight northwestern provinces in 2020 under the theme "Link Sustainable Development" is one typical example. Before that, Ho Chi Minh City had very effective tourism links with thirteen provinces in the Mekong Delta region and five provinces in the Southeastern parts of Vietnam.

The Covid-19 pandemic across the globe is still very complicated and unpredictable. According to the World Tourism Organization forecast, all global tourism can only expect to recover sometime in the third quarter of 2021. With this in mind, the Vietnamese tourism industry is working together in consensus with businesses, localities and management agencies to restructure itself, find new source of visitors, and create suitable plans and programs that will once again bring the industry back on its feet.

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