Tourism businesses in Vietnam’s largest city of Saigon are ready to welcome foreign tourists back as the city received approval from the Government to reopen to visitors this month.
Although travelling was postponed due to the pandemic, Viet Travel Company had still maintained operations, Nguyễn Quốc Kỳ, chairman of the company said.
“We have promoted digital marketing to approach new customers, created new tourism products and built a human resources plan to be ready for reopening,” he said, adding that the pandemic was an opportunity for them to restructure.
Kỳ said that the world travel industry forecast 70-80 per cent of tourists to be travelling by air going forward.
“If we delay reopening, the tourism industry will be restrained,” he said.
Nguyễn Khoa Luân, CEO of the Ảnh Việt Media TV and Tourist, the first hop-on/hop-off bus service provider in Việt Nam, said: “We need to speed up the reopening because it’s a matter of life and death.”
Luân said a delay in reopening would make Việt Nam lose competitive advantage, and affect the recovery of the tourism industry.
“We have accommodation facilities, services and vehicles available to welcome customers, so what we worry about most is losing customers due to delays,” Luân said.
Tourism businesses and experts also expect more specific support from local authorities during the reopening.
Foreign visitors in Vietnam
Võ Thị Ngọc Thúy, headmaster of Hoa Sen University, said state management agencies should work with businesses to create new and clean tourism products to bring “peak” experiences to customers. “It’s a way to attract loyal customers,” he said.
She added that local authorities should accelerate digital transformation in the tourism industry such as working with other countries to approve the “COVID green card” and encourage businesses to create safe and outstanding experiences for travellers to Việt Nam.
Thúy also emphasised offering training on digital transformation to tourism workers as a way to improve their skills and productivity. However, she added that the “work needs help from authorities because many businesses have a shortage of resources due to the pandemic.”
According to Lê Trương Hiền Hòa, deputy director of the city Department of Tourism, the city has developed a smart tourism plan for 2022-30, focusing on digital transformation by building applications on virtual tours, accommodation, destinations, services and other information.
The plan aims to build a database on tourism and visitors to share with businesses, as well as to support them with digital transformation.
The department is expected to discuss issuing safety criteria with businesses to welcome foreign visitors as they arrive.
During the pandemic, the city organised many events to promote its tourism such as tourism expo day on the internet, a tourism week themed “Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh – Thành Phố Tôi Yêu” (HCM City – I Love My City), and a Facebook fanpage called Vibrant Ho Chi Minh City.
The city has issued many policies to support tourism businesses like non-interest loan packages, and training courses for tour guides and managers and staff working for tourism-service providers, food and beverage businesses, and hotels.
However, the city has seen around 90-95 per cent of small and medium-sized tourism businesses and inbound travel agencies stop operation, 75 accommodation facilities close or switch to other businesses, and 75 per cent of people working in the industry lose their jobs.
This article was first published on Vietnam News