Although it has been fully open for tourism for more than a month, the number of foreign tourists to Vietnam is still not much.
Due to the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic, Vietnam’s tourism industry suffered a serious crisis. The Vietnam + page on April 15 reiterated that in 2020, international visitors to Vietnam will only reach 3.7 million arrivals, a decrease of over 80% compared to 2019. Domestic tourists also decrease by 50%, making the tourism industry Revenue loss is about 23 billion USD in 2020. With that, about 95% of international travel businesses stop operating, the occupancy rate of accommodation is only 10-15%, many hotels have to close. …The first tourists landed on Phu Quoc island on November 20, 2020, after nearly two years Vietnam closed its border to prevent the Covid-19 epidemic. AP
According to data from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, in March, Vietnam welcomed about 15,000 international tourists, 10 times higher than in February, when quarantine regulations were still in place. for immigrants. But in fact, the number of foreign tourists mentioned above is very small compared to the expectations of the tourism industry in Vietnam.
The first reason: the two countries that are considered to be the big markets of Vietnam’s tourism before the Covid epidemic, China and Japan, both consider their borders to be still closed, so there are no tourists from the two countries. this. Before the pandemic, northeast Asia accounted for 70% of all foreign visitors to Vietnam, of which Chinese visitors were about 5.8 million in 2019, accounting for the largest number. China still maintains a zero-Covid policy, with very strict measures to block entry and exit. As for Japan, Vietnam’s third largest tourism market, has relaxed border controls and let people go abroad more comfortably, but still applies strict regulations on isolation for foreigners. with people returning from abroad. So not many people want to travel at this time.
Impact of the war in Ukraine
It is also unfortunate for Vietnam that while the Covid-19 epidemic began to subside, the Ukraine war broke out, directly affecting the tourism industry of some localities that still welcomed many Russian tourists, including there are Nha Trang and Cam Ranh, in Khanh Hoa province.
It is because of the war situation in Ukraine that since March 28, Vietnam Airlines has had to suspend regular flights between Hanoi and Moscow, and some Vietnamese travel agencies have temporarily stopped welcoming Russian tourists due to the reasons Western sanctions against Moscow. Russian airline Aeroflot also recently announced the suspension of all international flights, fearing that the planes it leases from abroad will be confiscated.
Not to mention, due to Western sanctions, Russians from now on cannot use credit cards abroad. This makes the number of Russian tourists traveling abroad in general and to Vietnam in particular even more rare.
Bloomberg news on April 10, 2022 had an article about a 5-star hotel in Nha Trang, MerPerle Hon Tam Resort, which was dubbed “Little Russia” because it still welcomes a lot of Russian tourists every year, has dropped out. spent up to 44,000 dollars to upgrade and renovate the hotel, prepare to welcome back regular customers after nearly two years of Vietnam’s closure. But then the war in Ukraine caused no Russian guests to come. Having lost an important source of income from this source of tourists, the management of this hotel now has no idea where to get the money to pay the staff!
Companies specializing in other tourism markets are trying to attract customers with promotions and “great discounts” such as Swallow Vietnam in Hanoi. Responding to RFI Vietnamese on April 13, 2022, Ms. Nguyen Thi Nhan, director of the company, said:
“Traditional programs across Vietnam or traditional programs of 7 days, 8 days, 13 days from north to south are often very expensive. But after the epidemic, the resorts, airlines, hotels, villas, discounts a lot, so we also have stimulus programs, discount 30%, 50% to 70%, to attract customers to Vietnam. Male. After opening for more than a month now, our company has only received a few delegations from Australia and New Zealand.”
In addition to the abolition of regulations on isolation for Covid-19 epidemic prevention, in order to promote the recovery of the tourism industry, from mid-March, the Hanoi government also announced the re-establishment of visa exemption for citizens from Vietnam. 13 countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, Korea, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Belarus), with a temporary stay period of 15 days from the date of arrival. entry.
Obstacles in visa issuance
From March 15, 2022, measures and procedures on entry and exit for foreigners and Vietnamese residing abroad will also be restored to the same as before the application of restrictive measures to prevent, fight against Covid-19.
But according to Ms. Nguyen Thi Nhan, director of Swallow company, many tourists still face obstacles when applying for a visa, especially applying for an online visa:
“The reason why tourists have not come in large numbers is that the government’s visa policy is still not really unified. Many customers send emails or apply for visas online, but when they prepare to fly, there is still no response. There are some of our guests who are stuck in Thailand or in Singapore, because they have already arrived but the online visa department has not yet confirmed them, causing them to miss their flight.
There are two reasons. The first reason I guess may be that they are overloaded, because when they first reopened, there were a lot of registered tourists, so they may not be able to reply in time. The second reason, I have heard, is that the policy is not consistent between the government and the embassies, that is, one side is open, but the other side is still reviewing, so the visa has not been issued quickly to customers. Okay.
When guests read the radio, they see that Vietnam has fully opened, but it takes a long time to apply for a visa. Many subjective guests do not have a Vietnam visa but have already booked tickets in Southeast Asian countries.
The online visa application procedure, we find it very simple, but do not understand why they are so slow to respond. Some of our guests have scheduled to stay in Thailand for about 15 days and then come to Vietnam and they have applied for a visa before they fly, ie a total of 20 days, and still have not had a visa. It was not until the flight check-in was completed that it was reported that it had not been approved to enter Vietnam. So they had to cancel the schedule again and had to continue to stay in Thailand.”
Scarcity of workers
But even if difficulties in visa issuance can be solved, Vietnam’s tourism industry currently cannot afford to serve a large number of foreign tourists, due to the shortage of workers, the consequences of the pandemic. Covid-19 pandemic. Ms. Nguyen Thi Nhan, director of Swallow travel agency, said:
“There are travel companies where almost 90% or 95% of employees quit, because after two years they could not survive, but had to switch to other companies. Our company alone is not like that, because we still maintain the basic salary for our employees, giving them enough income to live, so now all the employees are still working normally.
Currently, the number of tourists to Vietnam is still not much. If the number of guests returns as much as before the epidemic, it will not be able to serve, including hotels and resorts. In the hotels and resorts that we contact, many places have 1 in 2 to 2 out of 3 employees who have quit. If the number of guests spikes, it cannot be served, because they do not have enough staff. Even some hotels and resorts are only half open. For example, if there is area A and area B, only zone A will be opened, because zone B does not have enough employees to operate.
We are facing a number of cases such as many resorts sending emails informing that they only serve breakfast from 8 am to 10 am, instead of serving from 6 am as before. But early tour guests usually have to leave the hotel at 7 o’clock, so they should have given them breakfast at 6 o’clock. But the hotel apologizes for the lack of staff so we can’t serve breakfast early!”
Asia Nikkei website on March 30, 2022, citing data from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said that before the pandemic, Vietnam’s tourism industry employed 2.5 million people. Due to the closure of Vietnam to fight Covid-19, 80 to 90% of companies in the tourism industry had to stop operating for two years, so many employees had to find work elsewhere. Now it’s not easy to get those employees back.
Vietnam’s tourism industry has set a target of welcoming 5 million foreign tourists this year, but competition in the region is also very fierce, because other Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines have quickly quickly take measures to attract international tourists back after the pandemic.