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Vietnam must accept US$60-billion tourism losses to ensure safety: PM

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HANOI – Before the Covid-19 outbreak, Vietnam would welcome 21 million international visitors annually, with total revenues exceeding US$60 billion. This year, due to the impact of Covid-19, the figure has been slashed to nearly zero but the country has to accept the loss to prevent the resurgence of Covid-19 and ensure the safety of the people, said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Addressing a National Assembly discussion session on November 2 on the burning issues facing the nation’s socioeconomy in the year to date, PM Phuc stressed that the impact of the pandemic and disasters such as flooding and storms currently battering the central region are the two largest challenges.

The Government leader said that being flexible in socioeconomic management is most necessary to ensure efforts to fight the pandemic and disasters and promote economic growth are made concurrently.

When the first coronavirus wave hit the country this March, there would have been many deaths if the country had not implemented the social distancing measures. However, during the second coronavirus wave in Danang, the social distancing order was imposed on some affected and vulnerable regions instead of on a national scale and quarantine activities were conducted appropriately. If not, the country would have suffered negative economic growth and ended up in limbo, PM Phuc said.

The Government knows that many people and businesses really want international travel to resume, but it is not the right time for such a move. “Vietnam could pay dearly for a decision to open its doors to international tourists at this time, as the pandemic can recur in the country at any time,” he added.

Accordingly, he said that the whole country must continue to adopt anti-pandemic measures and not trade the safety of its people for economic benefits.

Thanks to the flexibility, Vietnam was among two Asian nations that recorded positive GDP growth in the first half of the year. In the ASEAN region, Vietnam is the only country which saw its growth moving upward.

Further, despite the impact of Covid-19 and foreign exchange earnings through tourism activities being slashed to nearly zero, the State Bank of Vietnam managed to maintain its foreign exchange reserves at over US$90 billion, helping efforts to settle economic issues and offering relief aid to disaster-hit people.

By Lan Nhi

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