According to a Saigon-based tour operator that mainly targets Western markets, they have arranged more than 50 group inclusive tours for Europeans within February 2020 alone, and have yet to see changes in their future bookings.
Vietnam Tourism Association (VITA) has in fact issued a guideline which specify safety standards for tourist destinations as well as their accompanying hospitality service providers during the virus outbreak.
Meanwhile in the Southeast tourism hotspot Ba Ria-Vung Tau, hotels and restaurants rejoice at the slowly but surely growing number of tourists since the virus was first reported.
Nonetheless, the clear absence of group visitors and record-low number of tourists in general still concern business owners, especially during a previously anticipated tourist boom.
Local data shows that the epidemic has slashed the number of vacationists to the province by 31% compared to 2019.
Ba Ria-Vung Tau Tourism Association planned to call for financial aids from tax agencies and banks in forms of tax exemption, reduction of loan interest and worker insurance fees.
Promotional events are being planned by the association to improve tourist flows and continue to attract visitors from Ba Ria-Vung Tau’s usual markets like HCMC, the Mekong Delta, North and Central Highlands.
The government at the same time is promoting tourism in areas unaffected by the virus such as the South Central and Central Highlands regions, then North Central, Con Dao and Phu Quoc islands consecutively.
Many believe putting Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Gia Lai and Dak Lak in the forefront of the national touristic advertising campaign is a wise move, considering those provinces’ distance to the country’s epicenter as well as their favorable weather and magnificent sceneries.
The businesses signing up for this campaign must pledge to offer great discounts of up to 80% but still maintain quality services, stated Permanent Vice Chairman of VITA Vu The Binh.
The epidemic has forced the tourism sector to shift its focus to domestic market, with arguably lower profits but a remarkable number of prospects, said deputy director of a local travel agency.
“Even Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have opted to attract visitors through promotional deals while the public is still skeptic due to Covid-19. Balancing low prices and supreme quality is the key to our campaign here in Vietnam”, said Deputy Director of HCMC Department of Tourism.
However, travel agencies fear that other providers in the chain, like passenger transport services or local caterers, might not keep their end of the deal. “They might charge us regular prices once they are out of the woods, while we are stuck with promised discounts to early tour bookers”, expressed the owner of a tour agency in HCMC.
A wave of customers reportedly canceled bookings to South Korea due to concerns over the Covid-19 epidemic, according to several HCMC travel agencies on February 23. According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, Vietnam is one of the major markets for Korean tourism. South Korea in 2019 welcomed about 550,000 Vietnamese visitors, a 20% up compared to 2018. However, due to the virus outbreak, the government’s plan to increase the number of visitors to 20% in 2020 will be affected significantly.