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Tourism authority mulls measures to recover from coronavirus outbreak
By Minh Duy
Monday,  Feb 10, 2020,18:05 (GMT+7)

Tourism authority mulls measures to recover from coronavirus outbreak

By Minh Duy

Foreign tourists in Hoi An, a central destination in Vietnam. VNAT has mapped out plans to attract more visitors when the coronavirus outbreak comes to an end – PHOTO: MINH DUY

HCMC - As the coronavirus outbreak is predicted to cost Vietnam’s tourism sector up to US$7.7 billion in the next three months, the tourism authority has mapped out plans to attract more visitors when the epidemic comes to an end, including running promotion campaigns at home and abroad.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) has estimated that international tourist arrivals to the country would decline by 3.7-4.7 million, while local tourists would fall by 50%-70%, or 11-15 million due to the impact of the new coronavirus, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

Chinese visitors usually account for roughly 30% of Vietnam’s total international arrivals. Accordingly, the country could experience a substantial fallout from the Wuhan coronavirus. The decline in Chinese tourists could lead to US$2 billion in lost tourism revenue for the Southeast Asian nation.

Further, the outbreak of the Wuhan virus could wipe out US$3 billion from Vietnam’s tourism revenue, as visitors from other foreign countries stay away from the region, in addition to a loss of US$2.7 billion from local tourists’ spending.

To cope with the situation, VNAT is set to launch tourism promotion events in April if the outbreak is dispelled by late March. Specifically, the sector could step up preparations for local tourism activities, which typically enter peak season from late May, while tour operators could promote outbound tours to make up for losses incurred since early this year.

For the second plan to bring international travelers to Vietnam in June, the sector will host promotions domestically and overseas between April and September, allowing the local tourism market to rebound during the peak travel season from October to April.

VNAT also envisioned another scenario after global health experts forecast that the virus could be contained after this summer. As such, tourism activities can only resume normal operations in the last quarter of the year.

In this case, promoting domestic tourism events could face obstacles due to the lack of time for preparations, but overseas promotion activities will be rolled out to attract tourists, according to the tourism administration.

VNAT added that the sector should intensively tap source markets such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and ASEAN nations, where air services linking these destinations with Vietnam are showing increasing growth. Further, other potential, large markets such as India should be taken into account as well.

Last week, tourism authorities, tourism associations and local governments attended a host of meetings to discuss coping solutions. The meetings proposed the Government consider exempting visa fees, simplifying visa application procedures for tourists in package tours and allowing the issuance of visas upon arrival.

They also suggested provincial governments should weigh the reduction or exemption of entrance ticket fees for tourists for one or two months after the end of the outbreak.

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