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|Danang targets suffer blow with declining visitors|
On the first day of the Lunar New Year, Danang’s city leaders often gather with the business community at the Spring Seminar to share difficulties and respond to business questions. However, this year, the event was replaced by a series of meetings regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. While the health sector is trying its utmost to prevent the disease, the city’s tourism industry is facing a sharp reduction in revenue.
During the Lunar New Year festivities, Danang welcomed about 355,000 visitors, an increase of 2 per cent over the same period. However, the number of stays since has decreased by up to 20 per cent.
Huynh Duc Tho, Chairman of Danang People’s Committee said, “The disease is raging and tourism is declining, and so our GDP growth target of 10 per cent on-year is at stake.”
Truong Thi Hong Hanh, director of Danang Department of Tourism, said that foreign tourists in the city were mainly South Korean and Chinese, of which South Korean citizens accounted for more than half of the total international visitors to Danang.
However, representatives of travel companies and tourism business units specialising in transporting South Korean tourists to Danang have said that, over the past week especially, the number of tourists from South Korea heading to Danang and other localities in Central Vietnam is continuously declining.
Many travel agencies have booked hotels but tourists afraid of disease have cancelled their tours mid-way, while travel agents still had to pay for the rooms. The number of Chinese tourists coming to Danang has traditionally been high, while a lot of wayward information on social networks saying that Danang was suffering from the epidemic have caused hesitation among South Korean tourists to visit the city.
Kim Teamin, representative of Omega Tours, specialising in bringing South Korean tourists to Danang, said, “Our business has suffered a lot of damage because of sudden cancellations but we still have to pay. We propose that the city intervenes to share difficulties, reduce costs, or not charge for rooms when guests cancel the tour.”
Cao Tri Dung, chairman of the Danang Tourism Association said, “The unit has sent a written request to the Vietnam Tourism Association, and to the government and relevant ministries for official notification of the epidemic situation disease in Vietnam.”
The Vietnam Tourism Association is set to organise a seminar with the participation of the largest tourism business applications in the country to collect comments and propose solutions to overcome difficulties in the period of preventing and combating respiratory infections.
“We will be the channel to settle issues,” continued Dung. “The association works with service providers including airlines, hotels, and restaurants to quickly implement stimulus packages and very attractive policies to stimulate the source of visitors back to Danang. We must minimise losses and quickly restore the South Korean guest market, as this is the largest market for Danang.”
Facing an epidemic that negatively affects the tourism industry and may freeze real estate, Tho of Danang People’s Committee has asked the local Department of Tourism to urgently search for other tourism markets in order to limit the influence from the Chinese market to the city’s tourism industry as well as to contribute to achieving growth targets. In addition, Tho has directed the department “to soon issue a notice to tour operators and relevant agencies in order to provide clear information about prevention and control of COVID-19 in Danang,” to help serve not only Chinese and South Korean tourists, but those from neighbouring nations such as Singapore and Malaysia.
Many have shared that Danang’s tourism industry needs to turn the health crisis into an opportunity to continue expanding more new quality markets.
According to Hanh of Danang Department of Tourism, by May there should be operation of a new route connecting Danang with New Delhi in India, with the frequency of five flights per week by Vietjet. “In the immediate future moves like these help explore the market, then long-term plans to exploit potential markets can be formulated,” Hanh added.