Vang Vieng, Lao PDR

Tourism industry needs more than just vaccines to survive

A visitor poses for a photo on a beach in Danang City. – SGT
Photo: Nhan Tam

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 heavy pressure to survive, alter or crumble due to challenges brought about by Covid-19.

An abnormally quiet summer season

At this time last year, Danang’s tourism industry was busy with stimulus events and programs all through summer, including the popular Fantastic Danang Festival 2020 that took place from July 30 to August 5. The city identified this as an opportunity to stimulate tourism, paving the way to restore other economic fields such as transportation, trading, construction and banking in the context that the Covid-19 pandemic had been put 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 tourism season. Cao Tri Dung, chairman of the Danang Tourism Association (DATA), at that time believed that more and more tourists would come to the city until the end of the year paly 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 happy with the good news. Danang was the gateway, welcoming passenger flights from other places to the central region. Many travel companies in Danang took the opportunity to invest in travel and transportation and accommodation services to serve tourists on the central route from Quang Binh to Binh Dinh.

However, it all went downhill following the new Covid-19 outbreak in Danang from the evening of July 24, which spread to other localities. Danang was then locked down for more than 30 days.

Danang then shifted to operating rescue flights to bring thousands of tourists stranded in the city back to their hometowns.

“We lost the peak summer season. We can now only come back thanks to the year-end festive season and the new year,” Doan Hai Dang, chairman of the Danang Travel Association, had said at the time.

However, the pandemic grew unpredictable and the tourism industry continued to do badly across the country. According to statistics, in the first six months of 2021, the revenue from tourism and related services only reached VND322 billion, down more than 33% year-on-year.

Now, businesses are entering the second quiet summer season in a row, with no guests.

“I am very keen on welcoming domestic tourists this summer, but what man proposes god disposes,” said Nguyen Ngoc Anh, director of Omega Tours. “The pandemic broke out again. Customers have canceled or postponed their booked tours. All of our cars could not be used for months. We don’t have a source of revenue, but we have a lot of expenses every day from bank interest to taxes and maintenance costs,” he said, adding that almost all travel companies are in the same situation.

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