Vietnam is considered to be a successful model when it comes to contain Coronavirus. The reopening of some tourist destinations, however, still puts questions to many local residents: Is it the right time?
30th April this year marks the 45 year anniversary of Vietnam independence day. It is followed by the International Labor day and weekends which lead to a long holiday for Vietnamese people. After staying indoors for roughly a month of social distancing, they desire to break free to get escaped from stuffiness and boredom.
“We planned to go to Da Lat right after the pandemic. The social distancing removed was luckily timed to coincide with upcoming national holiday. As such, my friends and I have decided to set off to Da Lat on this occasion”, Minh Ngoc, 25-year-old girl living in Ho Chi Minh says. Da Lat is a famous destination in Vietnam appealing to both international and domestic tourists. Even though the international flights are still suspended, the number of local people, especially ones from Ho Chi Minh City, floods to Da Lat from 30th April is tremendous.
That holidaymakers have flocked to an array of destinations in recent days signifies the “reborn” of Vietnamese tourism. Expectedly, there are around 1000 travelers coming to Lam Dong province each day but the real number of tourists going to Da Lat has surpassed the estimated figure. Many hotel owners and travel agencies show their optimism as the quantity of tourists to some certain attractions is higher than expected, albeit there are still regional disparities between northern and southern destinations. Photographers have captured the congestion in some highways, jam-packed views of tourist attractions from Mui Ne to Vung Tau – the coastal “heaven” for relaxation and aquatic activities.
The confidence of Vietnamese tourists seems reasonable when this country has hit the global headlines as successfully managing the spread of Coronavirus. Being adjacent to China, Vietnam has only recorded 270 cases with no death. The prompt actions of the government in carrying out mass testing, closing school from early February, quarantining all people traveling from foreign countries and strict social distancing have helped to gain the trust of local residents. Regarding it as a victory seems at that moment appears reckless and imprudent. Nevertheless, Vietnam has, undeniably, played a great role in containing coronavirus, on not only the national scale but also global battlefield.
The recovery of tourism may come at the right time when summer is approaching. It is the peak time for the local tourism market when Vietnamese students have 2-3 months of break to enjoy summer holiday.
However, many social media users seem dubious about the swift return of mass tourism as the current situation is still complicated. In parallel with authorization of the government which allows some provinces to reopen tourist destinations, the regulations relating to safe distancing and how to protect ourselves in a crowd are also released to halt the possibility of Coronavirus transmitted between tourists. Yet, maintaining a safe distance sounds no easy at all in tourist attractions.
“I think it is still better to stay at home under no emergent situations. Vietnamese government has tried their best to keep us safe and ensure the return of normal life. We should not make these collective efforts go in vain just due to some thoughtless actions”, Nhat Minh, a 24 year old designer residing in Ho Chi Minh City decided to keep staying indoors these days. There are some confirmed reinfected cases relating to a bar in District 2 in this city.
In spite of being well regulated, the practice of keeping minimum distance in tourist destinations is unrealistic when they are overwhelmed with vacationers. The strong reminder and constant announcement by the government relating to safety issues have been informed during the holiday. The fear is understandable, so is the joy of tourists. There was a period at the end of March when Vietnam almost eradicated Coronavirus nationwide and suddenly, a new case appeared leading to the outbreak. No one wants it to happen again.
“People have their own freedom and their own choice to go sightseeing when social distancing is removed. “Travel or not travel”, as long as it doesn’t go against the law, then it is acceptable. However, collective responsibility is something to be concerned about in this situation. We do not want to start from the scratch one more time”, Ngoc said.
Words by Bui Minh Duc (email@example.com), a freelance reporter. Opinions expressed here are his own.