JOURNALIST: - Sir, many people believe it will be very difficult to promote economic recovery and growth if we continue to shut down tourist attraction sites, but on the other hand it is also risky to remain open in this complicated scenario. What is your opinion on this situation?
Dr. LE DANG DOANH: - A survey conducted by the General Statistics Office, under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, shows that economic sectors that have companies most adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic are aviation companies with 100% impact, hotels with 97.1% impact, food and beverage companies with 95.5% impact and travel industry with 95.7%. Therefore, it is necessary to take appropriate measures to boost economic growth post Covid-19 pandemic, for both domestic and international tourism.
Currently, we are not providing international tourist services, but domestic tourist services are available again. I suppose it is essential because there is still plenty of room for domestic tourism to grow. Additionally, Vietnam has lots of advantages for tourism recovery at the moment as after a long period of social distancing, a lot of people feel the need to go out on trips away from their homes for a much needed break.
The sudden spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in some places erupted after some illegal foreign immigrants entered our borders and mixed with the locals. The novel coronavirus that has caused so many casualties in the central city of Da Nang was transmitted to the residents via these illegal immigrants. This clearly means we have to impose stricter regulations on immigration along our borders. Yet, irrespective of this resurgence we must not stop stimulating the growth of domestic tourism, and continue to support it even more.
- Sir, what do you think we should do to stimulate domestic tourism?
- The tourism sector is launching a campaign to encourage “Vietnamese people to tour Vietnam”. This can help drive the domestic tourism market but we must also push for international tourist visitors to resume tours as soon as the disease is brought under control, such as Japanese, Russian and South Korean visitors. These countries have large numbers of tourists we can reach out to and I have suggested that now we badly need relief packages from the Government to do so. However, the state budget has to cover lots of things and fails to provide relief aid for all the sectors that are in trouble.
Therefore, each sector should make its own plans to help itself out of this current difficult and challenging situation. With regards to the tourism sector, if all the relevant sectors and companies strictly comply with safety rules, reduce prices and improve quality of services, I am sure we can see recovery sooner. The best measure to save a tourism company is to let it save itself. This means, it should operate its activities normally in order to make sales and earn an income.
- Sir, you said that continuing to maintain tourism activities is a way to save companies in the tourism industry, but it is also important to ensure safety. Will this dual effort become too challenging for companies?
- As a rule, safety for tourists should be top priority. Tourism will recover soon if stability can be maintained. However, if someone suddenly tests positive for coronavirus or an outbreak of the disease suddenly happens in an area, tourism will surely freeze in that area. As I said before, the key is to prevent foreigners from illegally entering the country. Also, it is essential to have a collaboration from other concerned sectors like aviation, hospitality, transportation, and even competent agencies that introduce supportive policies in a professional and timely manner. All the parties must lower prices to stimulate demand, and places of interest in cities and provinces should provide domestic visitors with free or lower entrance fees.
Corporations and enterprises must play a leading role in promoting domestic tourism. Tour operators should digitize their operations, provide attractive lower prices with professional services, to stimulate demand. Vietnam now has several advantages because we were successful in keeping the disease under control in the previous pandemic phase and our efforts were highly appreciated across many countries. I believe we will be able to control the new outbreak also and pave the way for tourism activities to return back to normal.
- Sir, what do you think will be the trend for tourism in the future?
- As of now, we are still unable to say exactly when the tourism industry in Vietnam will recover, but the industry will certainly go through significant changes in the future. It is impossible to analyze the current trends and predict future possible ones. First, even if the disease is successfully contained, the fear will remain in the psyche of travelers for a long time to come. Therefore, factors like safety and information on medical care services will be important for people when they choose their next travel destination.
Second, people tend to mostly choose short-term tours or short trips and like to travel in small groups with their relatives and friends. The fear of the disease and an unsafe environment can affect their eating and shopping habits. This is why people now tend to take short and cheaper trips, instead of longer and more expensive tours. This ensures safety, helps reduce expense and tourists are better prepared for unexpected worst case situations.
Third, Vietnamese people now prefer to go online to choose and buy tours more often, instead of doing it offline like before. In the current pandemic scenario, with lots of people earning lower salary or have lost their jobs, it will be more difficult to boost tourism growth again soon. However, the tourism industry can make step-by-step recovery. It is now crucial that safety is maintained or else our greatest efforts will fail to bring about any positive results. Not just Vietnam, but all other countries are concentrating on a few prominent spots to attract visitors back. This will provide certain job opportunities and income for tourism in those areas, and partially revive the tourism industry.
- Thank you very much.