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|Hospitality preparing for new dawn, illustration photo|
The emergence of new and potential variants of COVID-19 has prompted many governments to reverse previous efforts to ease restrictions on travel, with strict closures to tourists most prevalent in Asia-Pacific and Europe. Currently, it is estimated that one in three destinations worldwide are now completely closed to international tourism, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
Meanwhile, global hotel giants such as Accor and TUI Group along with many hoteliers, travel agencies, and airlines confirmed heavy losses for 2020 and into the first quarter of 2021.
In the gloomy context of global tourism and hospitality, Vietnamese hoteliers shared with VIR’s Viet Chung their confidence and promise for strong customer demand from summer 2021, with the hopes that Vietnam will be able to accelerate its vaccination strategies as effectively as the way the country has continued to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks.
Tracy Thai - Marketing and Communications manager, Eastin Grand Hotel Saigon
The presence of vaccines marks an important role in the fight against the pandemic, and seeing the first batch of vaccines land and start to get administered in Vietnam brings great hope for the whole country and our hospitality sector as well.
However, a 5-star hotel such as Eastin Grand Saigon with targeted clients from abroad has to wait for the effectiveness and widespread injection of vaccines worldwide and look towards easing or lifting restrictions on travel between countries.
In 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, we suffered heavy losses in revenue so we cannot pay for vaccines for all our staff, even if the government allows us to do so. We hope we can receive early support from the authorities for vaccines according to the national immunisation programme. While waiting for this, our hotel continues to carefully follow all safety methods according to the Ministry of Health and create various hot deals for accommodation, food and beverages, and luxury staycations.
Thuy Nguyen - Chief Business Officer, Silk Path Hotels and Resorts
I believe that the domestic tourism market will become fruitful again soon. Vietnam could be a perfect choice for foreign communities to enjoy luxury staycations and business tours with acceptable expenditure after being restricted by social distancing and travel limits.
We always take care of the safety and security for our staff who work with guests daily. We, therefore, have a priority to pay for vaccines for all staff whenever possible. This will be an effective effort to keep safety for our guests when choosing Silk Path hotels to enjoy their holidays.
Since COVID-19 emerged, we have applied various flexible methods to adapt to any situation. We try our utmost to provide the best private service to all guests. At the same time, we take full advantage of digital technology as well as press and social media channels to promote Vietnam as a safe and sound destination, and to prepare for the exciting return of tourism.
Manuel Ferriol Argent - General manager, Meliá Ho Tram Beach Resort
The good news has opened a clearer view to help effectively stop the spread of the coronavius in all communities.
It will also help us keep calm to get ready for work in a new normal. We expect for the brighter development of the domestic tourism market while the government is successfully controlling and preventing the pandemic to reopen international flights and have many more vaccines in the third and the fourth quarter. If everything works well, it’s really a perfect chance for tourism and hospitality to flourish again.
And if we have chances to access vaccines early, we will cooperate with the local authorities to find out the most effective methods for all of our staff. Meanwhile, we still maintain all activities in Meliá Ho Tram and maintain jobs for all staff to overcome the hardships. And I believe that all of us are ready to welcome the new waves of tourists stronger in the near future.
Blaise Montandon - General manager, Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai
Vietnam has been incredibly successful in containing community transmission, and will be regarded as one of the safest destinations to travel to. The arrival of vaccines will help both locals and tourists feel safer and more positive about travelling. With many countries around the world stepping up on vaccination, we are optimistic that the Vietnamese government will ease quarantine requirements for vaccinated tourists as soon as Q3 or by the end of 2021.
If the situation continues to be stable, more “green lanes” could be established so travellers with negative COVID-19 certificates do not need to be isolated upon arrival. These changes will give Vietnam’s hospitality industry a much needed lift towards long-term recovery.
With borders to international markets closed, we have focused on building awareness of Four Seasons in the domestic market and have been seeing increased brand preference and bookings coming in even before peak travel season in summer. Even as we enter a post-pandemic world, our Lead With Care global health and safety programme will continue to give guests and employees assurance of the highest level of care and attention to their wellbeing.
Alvaro Fernandez Lopez - Operations manager, SOL by Meliá Phu Quoc
After the outstanding response to this pandemic from the government in Vietnam and the recent purchasing of the first quota of vaccines, I do believe we have reasons to be cautiously optimistic regarding the last quarter of the year with maybe some trials to reopen gradually the borders to certain countries, especially within the ASEAN area. Obviously it will take some time as many factors will be in the game.
It is probably still an early stage to predict the way and timing for vaccine distribution in Vietnam. However, in this current situation we have to be ready for any rapid changes that may happen. We could see that in other countries this process has already started with some hotels vaccinating their associates. No doubt that if this option becomes real here, we will put all our efforts into that. Cooperation between hotels and authorities will speed up the process.
We are optimistic with the future and we expect an increase month-by-month in terms of travellers to the island. The management from the authorities has been so far impeccable and the recovery is just a matter of time. Luckily, Phu Quoc Island is not affected so we are confident to think that the recovery could be quicker than other destinations. Meanwhile, we are working hard in order to be ready once the borders reopen.
Brice Borin - General manager, Movenpick Resort Cam Ranh
We are glad that Vietnam has launched a clear vaccination plan and inoculated those people on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19. As a hotel operator, we have strong faith in the execution of vaccine distribution from the government and we are optimistic about the long-term recovery of travel. With the delivery of the first batch of vaccines, we are optimistic and believe in a brighter future for both international and domestic tourism.
Once the nationwide vaccination programme is well underway, we hope to restore traveller confidence, and shift attitudes toward staycations, leisure, public gatherings, and business travel in domestic destinations.
Mahesh Ramanayaka - Deputy general manager, L’Azure Resort & Spa Phu Quoc
As vaccinations are provided widely to citizens, the fears and worries which hold people back from travelling will eventually be removed. We also expect a decent amount of inbound tourism with vaccine passports in the future.
In order to be ready for the recovery of tourism, hospitality, and the service industry, our plan focuses on keeping the standard, keeping our staff on standby, and continuing to promote our brand to guests.
We will maintain this standard for all of our services no matter how tough the period continues to be.
Oliver Horn - General manager, InterContinental Phu Quoc
I’m very pleased to hear that vaccination programme is underway. We’ve been quite fortunate in Vietnam due to the amazing response from the government, and in particular Phu Quoc has been lucky with no recorded Covid cases so far. It has obviously been a very challenging year, but in recent months we have seen more and more interest in Phu Quoc as a destination of nature, privacy and incredible beauty. This has resulted in increased numbers of individual and group visits, which is certainly encouraging. In terms of a new normal, we are proud to share that our resort is keenly participating in IHG’s Clean Promise to ensure the safety and well-being of all our guests.
Phan Huu Duc - Director of Sales & Marketing, Hospitality Division, Sovico Group
I think Vietnam can recover in the hospitality industry from the fourth quarter of 2021. Markets that are close to Vietnam such as China, South Korea, Japan, and Australia will be the earliest recoverable international tourist markets.
In addition, the domestic tourism market will also explode when people have confidence that the vaccine will control the disease and that travel will be safer. The pandemic has had a great impact on the industry, and so vaccination of staff is one of the top priorities because we always want to bring high safety for customers.
Frederic Boulin - General manager, Park Hyatt Saigon
Vietnam could rise as one of the top destinations in Asia-Pacific for business and leisure travel post-pandemic in 2022 and beyond.
There may be a chance that vaccinated people may be allowed to travel, especially from international markets that have responded effectively to the pandemic, and so vaccine passports are a way forward.
At Park Hyatt Saigon, safety and wellbeing of our employees is always the top priority. We observe and work closely with the local authority and Ministry of Health. Even during the pandemic, Park Hyatt Saigon strives to act as a beacon of resilience for our guests and our local communities.
Our strategy remains a focus on local tourism and constant service upgrades. Hotel employees will also continue to be enrolled for extensive training programmes, ensuring the best force once borders are finally lifted.
Steve Raymond - Business development manager, Pandanus Resort Mui Ne
After enough people have received vaccinations around the world, hotel and airline management can use the more traditional methods of experience, training, and past production to project future occupancies. Until then, our projections will be “uneducated” guesses. Our uneducated guess is that the country will be reopened to appreciable levels of tourism by around November. So, we have based our projections and our contracts with international suppliers on that premise.
But once the country is reopened, how many people will actually travel here? The lockdowns and business closures have impoverished many previously affluent travelers. They are struggling to pay the rent and buy groceries and are unable to pay for such luxuries as travel. On the other hand, those who still have the means and have suffered through lockdowns and quarantines will be chomping at the bit to get out and see the world.