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Saigonese cancel tour bookings en masse over coronavirus concerns

Saigonese cancel tour bookings en masse over coronavirus concerns

Friday, July 31, 2020, 15:49 GMT+7
Saigonese cancel tour bookings en masse over coronavirus concerns
Tourists disembark boats after a river tour in the central region of Vietnam. Photo: N. Binh / Tuoi Tre

Thousands of potential holidaymakers in Ho Chi Minh City have called off their vacations amid the recent rapid development of COVID-19 outbreaks in Vietnam, according to the municipal tourism department.

On July 26 and 27 alone, around 20,970 customers canceled tour bookings with Vietravel and over 10,000 made cancelations with Saigontourist — two of the city’s leading tour operators.

Each of other smaller travel companies such as BenThanh Tourist, Fiditour, Hoa Binh, TST, and Dat Viet also reported at least 5,000 customers who scrapped tour bookings over the two days.

Vietnam recorded its first community-based COVID-19 infection since April on July 25.

Customers mostly dropped tours to the central city of Da Nang, which has become a new epicenter in Vietnam after recording at least 80 COVID-19 cases since Saturday, with 45 new infections added on Friday morning alone.

Likewise, tours to Phu Quoc Island off Kien Giang Province and other famous tourist destinations such as Nha Trang City in Khanh Hoa Province, Hanoi and Da Lat City in Lam Dong Province in August and September have also been canceled en masse, according to the travel agencies.

“Almost all tours to localities in the central [Vietnamese] region have been called off,” director of a travel agency in Ho Chi Minh City told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

Nguyen Huu Tho, chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said he is afraid that the situation will damage many tourism companies.

“[Tourism] firms are facing several difficulties. Employees of some companies have only resumed work for only one month and now they have to continue staying at home. Meanwhile, the budget reserves of many businesses have almost dried out,” Tho said.

Bui Ta Vu Hoang, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism, said that in the coming time, apart from preventing and controlling COVID-19, the department will continue supporting local tourism businesses to overcome difficulties caused by the pandemic and preparing policies to promote recovery immediately after the crisis ends.

“We will continue to review and assess the impacts of the pandemic on tourism businesses and propose solutions to the municipal People’s Committee to remove difficulties and support the firms to maintain their business,” Hoang said, adding that the department will focus on tax issues and proposals for support from the State Bank of Vietnam.

Vietnam’s tally of COVID-19 cases stood at 509, with 373 recoveries and one death — a 70-year-old man in the central province of Quang Nam — as of Friday afternoon.

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