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|At the right place, at the right time - Photo: InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach|
As the pandemic is wreaking havoc especially in those countries that should have had an easier game, Vietnam can lay back and relax, kind of at least. It feels a bit like living on some sort of secluded island in the middle of an ocean of chaos – we are safe here, but we know many people around us are not. But of course, life in Vietnam is not exactly a picnic either at these times as many businesses are still dealing with the economic aftermath, the export difficulties, and the absent international tourists. However, even with the economic hurdles Vietnam must overcome now, nothing is more important than being safe and sound.
As a result of the upheld travel restrictions, Vietnam’s only choice for recovering its tourism sector is the domestic market – a sector that is blooming again after the month-long spring break. To revive the tourism sector which contributed 12 per cent to last year’s GDP, nearly all large hotel and resort chains have decided to offer attractive promotions, including specials like vouchers for food and beverages, the imbursement of flight tickets or extra nights for free. Meanwhile, local airlines are luring customers with ticket prices close to zero and many popular venues like fun parks and golf courses are also offering their services with large discounts.
Though most foreigners have been brought home by their governments after the crisis started, there are still some left in Vietnam – like me for example. As a student, who is soon to graduate from his all-Vietnamese study programme, being “stuck” in Vietnam during these times is probably the best thing that could have happened to me. I am only a few days away from the end of one of my two last semesters and the following 2.5-month-long summer holiday, meaning I will have a lot of time in a safe country that is just reopening its local tourism sector with countless promotions – what could be better?
Moreover, in all honesty there is no place on Earth I would like to stay rather than in Vietnam. The combined efforts of the government and the huge public support and unity of the people have kept us safe here. Unlike the chaos and division that dominates the Western hemisphere amid the crisis – a scenario in which many people can only dream about relaxing on a sunbed while sipping on a refreshing cocktail – we can chill out here in Vietnam and actually do those things.
What is more, as there are no international tourists allowed to enter the country at the moment, some of the more popular destinations that I usually found to be a bit overcrowded for me to go to seem much more appealing now. Imagine being on Danang’s long sandy beach and no one else is there; or climbing Fansipan in some sort of solo adventure following the call of the wild – well, you get the idea. Although I wish the country’s tourism sector to soon be back on its feet, there will certainly be moments when I enjoy travelling for cheap in less crowded areas.
Meanwhile, life for most people in Vietnam will be much about rebuilding and recovering from the pandemic. However, I hope that the locals can also enjoy some of the current specials that so many tourism businesses are offering and get some well-deserved retreat after showing the world how to deal with a pandemic.