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Over 90% of travel firms suspend operations due to Covid-19

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HCMC – Over 90% of travel companies in the country has suspended operations as of early this month due to the steep drop in the number of foreign tourists seeking local tours amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to the General Statistics Office, international tourist arrivals in Vietnam in March dropped by 68.1%, equivalent to 960,000 arrivals, compared with the same period last year.

In the first quarter of 2020, the country received 3.68 million international arrivals, down 18.1% year-on-year.

In particular, the number of tourists from China and South Korea, the two key source markets of Vietnam’s tourism industry, has dropped by more than 90%. The number of tourist arrivals from other countries as well as domestic tourists has also fallen sharply.

The situation is forecast to worsen in April due to stricter travel, transport and other restrictions, social distancing measures and fears of contracting coronavirus.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism stated that most travel companies had shut down temporarily and would resume their operations once the pandemic is contained.

Under the Tourism Law, travel companies have to deposit VND100 million, VND250 million and VND500 million to obtain permission to operate domestic, inbound and outbound tours, respectively.

Talking to The Saigon Times, some travel companies said they intended to shut down permanently to get their deposits back. However, they will only receive their deposits 60 days after registering for permanent suspension, so they have decided to merely suspend their operations.

Many travel companies also strongly believe the tourism market will rebound.

“When aviation resumes and the borders are reopened, tourists will come back,” remarked Nguyen Ngoc Toan, director of Images Travel Company.

Tran Xuan Hung, chairman of Viking Travel, explained that he believed the Southeast Asian tourism market will rebound strongly once the Covid-19 outbreak is contained.

Hung pointed out that many of the company’s regional partners have spoken highly of Vietnam’s efforts in dealing with the pandemic. They also asked Hung to inform them when the country lifts the mandatory 14-day quarantine rule for ASEAN tourists so that they can reopen tours to Vietnam.

By Dao Loan

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