Vietnam seeks to break out of COVID-19 tourist trap: Bloomberg

Update: 16:15 | 09/06/2020
Leading business and financial website Bloomberg of the United States has recently published an article highlighting the strong rebound made to the nation’s domestic tourism industry, a model that is suitable for the rest of the world to follow.
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Vietnamese tourists are holidaying again. (Photo: Linh Pham)

According to the news website, the country is leading the way in the race to reopen Southeast Asia to travelers.

After recording a number of successful achievements to contain the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), domestic travel has already restarted, in contrast to regional neighbors such as Thailand which remains under a state of emergency, whilst other countries keen for tourism are only just starting to slowly ease restrictions.

This steady reopening will serve to help the national economy, and may encourage a welcome rethink with regard to the priorities of the leisure industry, the article explained.

This will ultimately lead to the country being among the first globally to get its citizens on holiday again. Whilst tourism only makes up approximately 9% of the $260 billion economy, a smaller portion than Thailand where the industry accounts for a fifth of their GDP.

Despite this, the sector employs roughly 5 million people, including many low-skilled workers.

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The US news website gave details about the “Vietnamese People Travel in Vietnam” campaign which has been launched to coincide with the local airline industry restarting its regular schedule.

Last year saw 85 million domestic tourists travel, making up more than 80% of all visitors, a huge number even if they spend less compared to foreigners.

Observations gathered over the past few weeks by Thien Minh Group, a firm that runs everything from cruises to resorts, suggests that travelers favor shorter breaks closer to home and want to visit beaches or other natural settings, with many shunning flights.

Discounts and safety are now the key factors for travelers, though anecdotal evidence suggests hotels prefer throwing in extra benefits to cutting room rates, a harder move to reverse.

Bloomberg also questioned if the return of foreign visitors may still be months away, despite airlines beginning to prepare to continue overseas flights.

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Considering the country’s relative safety, it serves as a stark indication of just how long it will take to get the near-US$9 trillion global tourism industry rejuvenated once again, with countries globally striving to hammer out bilateral agreements for travel, giving priority to business visitors. Despite the enthusiasm among different parties, there are only cautious signs ahead, according to Brendan Sobie, an independent analyst, whilst they are fraught with potential restrictions.

Ken Atkinson, an industry veteran who is now vice chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board, points out that in an attempt to avoid politics, there are likely to be objective thresholds put in place, such as a month of no community transmissions.

Countries that have managed the pandemic well, including the Republic of Korea and New Zealand, are therefore likely to be among the first in line. The focus on Chinese tourists, a key demographic for Southeast Asia, is probably set for the Golden Week holiday which starts in October.

There will likely be a progressive opening on the Vietnamese side, with easily contained holiday islands such as Phu Quoc or resort towns going first, says Steven Schipani, who looks at tourism in the Mekong region for the Asian Development Bank. Although tourists won’t accept long quarantines, testing is likely to be part of the deal when traveling, on both legs of any international journey.

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(Source: VOV)