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Safety first

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To better run their business during the Covid-19 pandemic, companies in the hospitality industry have conducted safety measures against the spread of the epidemic, effective for both tourists and their staff.

“The hotel installed flexiglass partitions along the reception desk, looking like bank counters,” a tourist says about a luxury hotel in Hanoi where he stayed last week. The guest is recounting looking at receptionists through a transparent petitions and staff wearing plastic face shields. “This is unforgettable experiences that occur only in the pandemic,” he says. But to hoteliers, these are strategic change in response to the deadly coronavirus in the current hard times.

Hotels tighten Covid-19 prevention regulations

TUI Blue Nam Hoi An Resort was opened in late March when Covid-19, just ahead of its becoming complicated in Vietnam. Later, the resort had to face a second wave of the pandemic in the central region. However, it has maintained its operation, welcoming both Vietnamese and expats living in the country.

Camellia Dinh, sales manager of the resort, says local Covid-19 prevention regulations as well as those offered by the management have been strictly adhered to. For instance, tourists are encouraged to check in online; the restaurants at the resort extend their opening time and don’t serve many guests at a time; food is served in small portions instead of the basic buffet concept; and staffers work in small teams to be able to quickly respond to new cases, if any.

Alma Resort in Cam Ranh also tightens their regulations on Covid-19. At a recent seminar hosted by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, Martin Koerner, director of Alma Resort, said their healthcare management department has a plan to react to the pandemic. Particularly, health check corner is set up at the resort’s entrance and reception desk. At the same time, social distancing measures are applied to restaurants, and surfaces touched by hand are disinfected frequently.

According to JLL, a real estate service company, the hospitality market has had to afford changes caused by the pandemic. Hotel owners and operators have prioritized health and safety of their guests and staffers and strictly carried out hygiene practices. The pandemic also promotes technology application as hotels have invested in technology to create a “distancing” vacation.

Hotels and resorts in Vietnam are operating in this way. A resort is now providing smart bands to tourists to avoid direct contacts. These bands are also used as a key room and are integrated with a function that allows guests to make their transactions during their stay at the resort. Therefore, guests can make their payments via the band instead of using cash.

Some hotel chains have prepared services that allow guests to check in and check out via phone or the Internet. Large-scale resorts in some provinces like Khanh Hoa, Binh Thuan, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, etc. have also offered private packages for small groups of guests.

Cooperation with partners and suppliers

Some businesspeople maintain that Covid-19 has initiated a change in the tourism sector. Hand sanitizer bottles are available in hotels and restaurants while staff wear face masks, take body temperature and require guests to provide health information. These scenes have become familiar these days. Services providers are adapting themselves to the new business environment and becoming a health and safety inspector of their own companies and partners.

Ta Thi Cam Vinh, vice general director of Ben Thanh Tourist, says guests are returning. At every departure, the company’s tour guides wear face masks and provide hand sanitizer to tourists. Ben Thanh’s 45-seat coaches now carry 30 guests. The travel firm only works with services providers who strictly ensure pandemic prevention regulations.

“We have applied the safety criteria set by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism to our services providing partners,” says Vinh. As expected, these regulations increase operating costs. However, they are necessary as it is hard to survive if the pandemic prevention is neglected.

Bui Viet Thuy Tien, chief executive officer of Asian Trails Co., says aside from reducing the number of tourists in each tour, foreign partners do not give her specific requirements for Covid-19 prevention. However, the company has to tighten the pandemic prevention process and ask services providers to conduct measures to ensure safety of guests and prepare for international tourist arrivals in the coming time.

“Each services provider is responsible for safety by themselves,” Tien says. “We do it for our mutual interest,” Tien adds.

The greatest advantage of Vietnam in reopening the door to international tourists is that there is no new infection in the community and the Government has been able to put the second outbreak under control. If tourist companies comply with safety standards and Covid-19 prevention regulations effectively, they will have more chances to return to the market.

“It seems that it is quite hard to put the pandemic under control globally in the coming time,” say Tien. “Therefore, the Covid-19 prevention measures must be more strictly applied when the Government allows to resume international tourism late this year.”

Furthermore, provincial and municipal authorities are running tourism stimulus programs. Among them, an agreement on tourism stimulation among HCMC, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Binh Phuoc, Binh Thuan, Tay Ninh, Dong Nai and Binh Duong has been kicked off recently. Under this program called “Seven Locations—Safety and Attractive Tourism,” participants will set up a digital safety tourist map which is linked to the map of seven locations meant to help tourists easily access safe tourist spots and services.

“We will further activities that help ensure safety of visitors and call for tour operators to run business safely and ensure the safety of tourists,” says Vo Thi Ngoc Thuy, vice director of the HCMC Department of Tourism.

By Dao Loan

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