VCN - Not yet recovered after the period of social distancing to prevent and control the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism businesses are coping with difficulties as the pandemic has started a new phase.
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More than 35,000 tours cancelled
Pham Van Chi, living in Thu Duc District, HCM City, said he bought a tour to Quang Binh on August 7, but he cancelled it because of the pandemic. Similarly, Le Thi Thoa (living in District 7, HCM City) said her family and brothers in the north had planned to travel to Vung Tau on this weekend, they had booked flight and hotel but then were wondering whether or not to delay the tour because of the complicated pandemic.
According to statistics of the HCM City Department of Tourism, more than 35,000 tours including package tours, optional tours, services (hotels, air tickets, and destinations) of major tourism enterprises in the locality have been cancelled. As the unit with the highest number of tour cancellations, Doan Thi Thanh Tra, Media Director of Saigontourist Travel Service Company, said from July 26, about 3,000 guests registered to travel to Da Nang had changed or cancelled their tours. Although the other tourist destinations in the country have not had the pandemic, they are also affected. Up to now, the company has had more than 10,000 travel programmes canceled.
According to Nguyen Minh Man, Marketing Communications Manager of TST Tourist Company, tours related to Da Nang that are scheduled to depart from July 25 at TST Company have completely stopped with nearly 1,000 seats cancelled and changed destinations. Popular destinations for tourists include Da Lat, Phan Thiet, Phu Quoc and southwestern region tours. When taking tourists to travel, the company also strictly implements medical declarations and checks safe destinations to organise tours. In destinations where new cases appear, the unit also recommends and changes tours for visitors to safer destinations.
On July 26 and 27, Vietravel company cancelled 20,970 tourism programmes to Da Nang and some other provinces, with total revenue damage expected to be VND88.6 billion. Other businesses also cancelled a series of tours such as Fiditour Travel Company, Hoa Binh Travel Company and Dat Viet Company with about 5,000 tours scrapped because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tu Quy Thanh, Director of the Federal Tourism Company, said at present, travel firms could not estimate their damage, but the damage this time would not be less than when the pandemic first appeared. Currently, most travel companies are trying to meet customers' requests when they want to cancel and change tours. The travel agencies tried to solve as much as possible to ensure interests of clients.
Links to overcome difficulties are needed
Nguyen Thi Khanh, Vice Chairman of the HCM City Tourism Association, said the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic had caused heavy losses for the economy, including the tourism industry. The Covid-19 outbreak in Da Nang has affected the travel psychology of the people in HCM City. Because of anxiety, many people cancelled a series of tours to Da Nang. Moreover, many tours to other localities without cases such as Da Lat, Phu Quoc, Vung Tau, or the northern provinces were also cancelled. When canceling a tour, most customers have asked the tour agencies to refund 100%, only a few guests agreed to postpone the trip to an appropriate time.
This causes great pressure on travel agencies because they cannot refund 100% to customers due to the fact they had to pay a deposit for the hotel and flight ticket in advance, but they were not refunded by these units. If any business accepts a 100% refund for visitors, it is a "peaceful" solution, which means businesses accept to put out their own money to refund customers to retain them.
Therefore, the HCM City Tourism Association proposed the Khanh Hoa Department of Tourism, Nha Trang – Khanh Hoa Tourism Association encourage service providers to share losses and damage, not to cancel or delay, and refund to travel agencies to pay customers. The HCM City Tourism Association has also sent a request to support businesses to the Department of Tourism, the Department of Culture - Sports and Tourism, and local tourism associations across the country. “Ho Chi Minh City is the locality with the largest number of travel companies and is heavily influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the time to have the connection and cooperation between city tourism and localities together with the Government to fight the pandemic and overcome difficulties for the survival and development of Vietnam's tourism,” said Khanh.
At the recent meeting with travel agencies, representatives of Vietnam Airlines, Bamboo Airways and Vietjet said they had studied policies to support the tourism industry but still needed help from the units. Many single tickets will be difficult to be refunded or cancelled, but for group travellers from travel agencies, they will try to change their flights with difference fees. Vietnam Airlines even has a policy for customers to reserve tickets until June 2021.
Bui Ta Hoang Vu, Director of the Department of Tourism of HCM City, said the department implemented measures to prevent the pandemic, ensuring safety for visitors. The HCM City Department of Tourism has studied scenarios for tourism recovery after the disease is well controlled; offering supporting solutions to help enterprises recover, stabilise their production and business, and continue to invest in improving the quality of tourism products.
By Thu Diu/ Ha Thanh