Vietnam could lose $23 billion in tourism revenue this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, or about 75 percent of last year’s industry revenue, the tourism minister said.
“The number of foreign arrivals is forecast to fall by over 80 percent,” Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien told the National Assembly on Monday.
Vietnam’s tally of foreign tourists reached an all-time high of 18 million in 2019 and the tourism industry earned VND720 trillion ($30.8 billion). The government had set a target of welcoming 20 million foreign visitors this year and expected industry revenues of $35 billion.
But the Covid-19 crisis that broke out in the country last January dashed the expectations. Vietnam’s January-October intake of foreign tourists dropped 73 percent year-on-year to little over 3.8 million, equivalent to only 21 percent of last year’s total foreign arrivals.
The government has closed national borders and canceled all international flights since March 25 except for special cases like repatriation and the entry of foreign experts and highly-skilled workers under stringent conditions.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told a National Assembly session last week the government had decided to keep the doors closed to foreign tourists “despite many disagreements.”
“The pandemic remains complicated and many countries have re-imposed lockdowns, social distancing and if we do not stay vigilant, we could easily make mistakes,” the PM said, adding the country accepted economic damage to protect people’s health and better control the pandemic.
Vietnam has not recorded any community transmission for over two months. Its Covid-19 tally is now 1,216, with 91 cases active.
This article was originally published in Vnexpress