The horribly rapid spreading speed of COVID-19 in the world is causing significant damages to several industries, including tourism, which is one of the sectors that are affected the most.
Doctor Nuno F. Ribeiro, a senior lecturer at the Tourism and Hotel Management Department of RMIT Vietnam University, says that countries whose tourism will recover quickly after COVID-19 will be those whose governments consider the health and welfare of their citizens top priority and simultaneously succeed in the prevention of the virus.
“During the epidemic, the Vietnamese Government has always put the safety and health of the people on top, and this is of extreme importance for tourism centralized around people”, he said. “The local authorities have also proposed many initiatives supporting enterprises in recovering after the epidemic passes. This is an easier thing to do than recovering the whole economy when there is no support available.”
Doctor Ribeiro, who is also in charge of the tourism and hotel research sector of the Business and Management Department of RMIT Vietnam University, also says that if Vietnamese Government can tackle the issues of COVID-19 quickly and effectively, it may turn Vietnam into a more attractive tourism destination in the Pacific-Asia region than other nations such as Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia.
“For some people, travel and tourism are needs instead of luxury hobbies. Instead of traveling to countries with the most magnificent and interesting sceneries, tourists tend to choose the safest place, and the fact that Vietnam has been doing their epidemic control well proves that this is one of the safest destinations in the world.”
After just a few recent months, the number of tourists coming to Vietnam has dropped from millions to zero. Doctor Ribeiro emphasizes that this massive decrease has been severely affecting tourism enterprises, as well as the lives of thousands of Vietnamese.
Doctor Ribeiro welcomes the latest initiatives of the Prime Minister directing the State Bank of Vietnam to provide a credit support package of 250,000 billion VND (equivalent to 10.5 billion USD) and directing the Ministry of Finance to provide a support package of 30,000 billion VND (equivalent to 1.2 billion USD) to the affected enterprises.
“I think this is a brilliant idea, as it not only has immediate impacts, but it will also bring positive effects in the future to the tourism industries in particular and to the whole economy in general”.
“Even though this epidemic is unprecedented, the history of the tourism industry from 1945 to present shows that, although the industry is vulnerable to cyclical crisis, it will recover faster and more strongly than any other economic industry”.
Being a scholar with more than 20 years of experience in the field of tourism, Dr. Ribeiro believes that some of the following measures can help reduce the negative impacts of COVID-19 in Vietnam.
Firstly, the Government needs to continue to coordinate with relevant ministries and agencies to prepare tourism activities to return slowly and safely.
Second, it needs to reduce tourism businesses' taxes and encourages business leaders not to lay off employees but only retrains them so they will be ready to return to work once the pandemic is over.
Third, diversification in the main domestic tourism market is suggested, because the COVID-19 pandemic clearly shows that the dependence on the Chinese and Korean markets will not be sustainable in the long run.
Fourth, Vietnam should learn from other places like Bali, Indonesia, or New Orleans (USA), which are the places that have had to deal with serious disasters.
Fifthly, the country should start marketing campaigns. It can gently use social media and advertising targeting potential tourists or tourists who are likely to return to Vietnam but cannot come at this time.
>> Vietnam economy: tourism industry to suffer billions-of-dollars loss