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Coronavirus poses challenges for tourism manpower
By Dao Loan
Wednesday,  Feb 12, 2020,11:35 (GMT+7)

Coronavirus poses challenges for tourism manpower

By Dao Loan

Chinese tourists at a Nha Trang City restaurant. The Wuhan coronavirus has created chaos for the tourism labor market – PHOTO: DAO LOAN

HCMC – The Wuhan coronavirus, apart from lowering tourist arrivals and tourism revenue, has created chaos for the tourism labor market.

A representative of an HCMC-based travel firm told the Saigon Times that it has received many applications from the staff of various tour operators, including senior managers.

However, with the decline in tourist arrivals triggered by the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the firm’s revenue is not enough to pay its current employees, let alone hire new recruits, the representative remarked.

At some hotels, mainly in Nha Trang City, multiple people have left their jobs without pay, while their executives have taken a number of unpaid days off per month.

Nguyen Thi Khanh, vice chairwoman of the HCMC Tourism Association, said that the association’s members have been facing many difficulties in paying employees’ salaries due to the deadly 2019-nCoV virus.

The city has some 5,000 tour guides, but most of them are now out of work, she reported.

According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, the coronavirus is expected to cause heavy damage to the tourism sector in the next three months.

The administration has estimated that international tourist arrivals in the country will decline by 3.7-4.7 million, while local tourist numbers will fall by 11-15 million due to the fallout from the new coronavirus, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

These declines will take a heavy toll on firms and workers operating in the tourism sector, including some 27,000 tour guides working nationwide.

Choosing to retain staff or reduce staff numbers to ease the hardship caused by the deadly virus is still difficult for the leaders of firms.

If firms retain employees, there will not be enough money to pay their salaries due to falling revenues. If firms lay off their workers, they will struggle with the lack of workers when the coronavirus outbreak ends.

Nguyen Anh Vu, general manager of the Rosaka Nha Trang four-star hotel, stated that it is necessary to weigh suitable options to overcome the hardship as recruitment in the wake of any disease outbreak is often difficult.

Vu suggested hotels repair and upgrade their facilities at this time to supply the best services to customers when the tourism sector rebounds.

Some travel firms and hotels have voiced concern over the potential shortage of workers after the epidemic ends. Therefore, they are seeking ways to retain their staff despite falling revenues.

These firms noted that they would withhold their employees’ salaries for the next six months and then pay them when the market bounces back.

Some said this period can be considered an off-peak travel season, so service suppliers should create strategies for the future, including launching training courses, developing new projects and creating new products.

Tran Trong Kien, chairman of Thien Minh Group, remarked that its employees are still working as normal and focusing on new projects though some of the firm’s branches have failed to maintain this effort.

It is necessary to offer support packages to firms that have incurred heavy losses because of the virus, he said.

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