2020 a devastating year for Vietnamese tourism

The number of foreign tourists to Vietnam reached an all-time high of 18 million in 2019, while the tourism industry earned 720 trillion VND ($ 30.8 billion). For 2020, the government had targeted the reception of 20 million foreign visitors, with an expected turnover of the industry of 35 billion dollars.

The country welcomed around two million foreign visitors in January, a 32.8% year-over-year increase before expectations were dashed when Covid-19 hit Vietnam on January 23.

From the end of January, the Vietnam Civil Aviation Authority suspended all flights to and from areas affected by the coronavirus in China and stopped issuing visas to visitors to these localities. China was Vietnam’s largest tourist market with nearly 4.8 million arrivals in 2019.

At the end of February, the government also canceled numerous flights to South Korea, the country’s second largest tourist market, and suspended visa-free travel for South Koreans to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The situation worsened in March, as many Vietnamese nationals returning from the United States and Europe, as well as foreigners arriving from the same destinations were infected with the virus. This prompted authorities to impose a three-week social distancing campaign on April 1 and suspend all international flights.

All of the country’s popular tourist destinations and other entertainment venues, including bars and karaoke lounges, have been closed as people are required to stay at home and limit gatherings in large crowds.

The Independence Palace in downtown Saigon is desolate in April 2020. Photo by VnExpress / Tam Linh.

At the end of April, tourist hot spots were allowed to reopen although the country remained closed to foreign arrivals. With strict restrictions on international travel, the industry has shifted to stimulating domestic tourism.

Thanks to effective Covid-19 control, Vietnam has seen major tourist hot spots fill with crowds of local tourists on weekends.

However, the industry has come to a halt again as Da Nang recorded the first local case of infection on July 25 to end the country’s 99-day streak without community transmission.

Many localities have closed their tourist attractions and rolled out anti-pandemic measures to curb the spread of domestic infections. The popular Da Nang, home to many famous beaches, as well as Quang Nam, well known for the UNESCO Hoi An heritage site, subsequently became the country’s biggest hotspots for coronaviruses, both put in quarantine for more than a month.

Tourism revenue in August fell 61.8% from the previous month to 974 billion dong ($ 42.4 million) as the resurgence of Covid-19 reduced demand for travel.

Thanks to strict quarantine and monitoring measures, Vietnam quickly contained the second outbreak of Covid-19, allowing economic and national tourism activities to return to normal.

But historic flooding in central Vietnam has again put the brakes on the tourism industry. Between early October and mid-November, the central region and parts of the central highlands were hit by a succession of storms that resulted in torrential rains, resulting in severe flooding and landslides.

At least 192 people have been killed and 57 are missing, with losses amounting to 30 trillion dong ($ 1.3 billion) in what the government claimed to be “the worst [damage] in decades. “

Popular tourist hot spots in central Vietnam such as Hue, Hoi An and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh province have been inundated with flood waters and closed to tourists.

Tourists row their boats near Hoi An market at the intersection of Tran Phu and Tran Quy Cap streets on October 12 after the flood.  Photo from VnExpress.

Tourists travel by boat near Hoi An Market at the intersection of Tran Phu and Tran Quy Cap streets on October 12 following a flood. Photo by VnExpress / Do Nhat Vu.

Vietnam could lose $ 23 billion in tourism revenue this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, or about 75% of industry revenue last year, the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism said. Nguyen Ngoc Thien at the National Assembly last month.

Due to the border closures and the suspension of flights, Vietnam welcomed 3.8 million visitors during the January-November period, down 76.6% year-on-year, while total revenues tourism is estimated at 16.6 trillion dong (722 million dollars), down 59%. of the previous year.

Vietnam has so far gone more than three weeks without community transmission following a mini-outbreak involving four locally transmitted cases in HCMC, triggered by a Vietnam Airlines flight attendant who broke quarantine rules.

Thanks to strict quarantine and contact tracing measures, Vietnam has managed to keep Covid-19 at bay with just 1,413 infections and 35 deaths.

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