Vietnam received 3.7 million foreign visitors in Jan-April, a 38 percent drop year-on-year, as a direct impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In its own fight against the pandemic, Vietnam had closed borders and suspended international flights. With many countries adopting similar measures, the aviation and tourism industries have been particularly hard hit.
Asians accounted for 72.7 percent of the country’s four-month foreign arrivals, according to the General Statistics Office. The tourism industry earned revenues of VND7.9 trillion ($337 million), down 45 percent year-on-year.
Vietnam has banned entry for foreign nationals since March 22, except for special cases. Since March 25, international flights have been suspended to prevent the spread of the virus.
With the tight restrictions remaining on international travel, the industry is now focused on boosting domestic tourism following the easing of social distancing norms from April 23.
Dang Manh Phuoc, CEO of travel solutions firm Outbox Consulting, said domestic tourism would recover first and tourism companies should target it. “Due to Covid-19 infection fears, locals currently have no plans yet to travel far and instead prefer nearby and safe destinations,” he said.
A representative of the Ben Thanh Tourist company said it would take more than a year for the company to recover.
Mauro Gasparotti, director Asia Pacific of Savills Hotels, also said the impacts of global pandemic on Vietnam’s tourism sector would continue until the end of 2020.
On April 22, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc decided to ease social distancing restrictions and declared no city or province in the country remained in the “at high risk” category for novel coronavirus infections, except for several districts in Hanoi, Bac Ninh and Ha Giang in northern Vietnam.
The Transport Ministry Tuesday approved the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam’s (CAAV) proposal to increase domestic flights’ frequency to meet higher travel demand.
From May 1 to 15, frequency on the Hanoi – HCMC route can increase to 36 flights a day, and the number of return fights to Da Nang from Hanoi and HCMC can go up to 12. From May 16, corresponding numbers can go up to 52 and 20 return flights per day.
Many popular tourist destinations such as Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, Quy Nhon, Da Nang, and Hoi An are welcoming tourists back.
Ly Son Island, a new holiday hotspot in the central province of Quang Ngai, and the Imperial Citadel, a popular destination in the former capital Hue, opened Wednesday after a long shutdown.
Vietnam recorded no new Covid-19 case Thursday morning, marking the sixth day without one, and the 14th day without community transmission. The time between exposure to the new coronavirus and manifestation of symptoms is usually five to six days but can range from one to 14 days, according to the World Health Organization.
Of the nation’s 270 confirmed cases, 51 are now active, with 219 people have been discharged from hospitals. The currently active cases include those who have relapsed after being discharged.
Meanwhile, many countries are cooperating with Vietnam to organize special flights to repatriate their citizens. Russia took back over 300 people in the past two weeks while the Philippines repatriated 143 people last week. Hundreds of Brits, Germans and Italians have also been taken home.
The pandemic has spread to 210 countries and territories, claiming more than 227,000 lives.
Caption: Pasteur Street in HCMC’s District 1 is almost deserted in mid April before social distancing restrictions were eased on April 23, 2020.
Reporting by Nguyen Quy @ VNExpress