Stimulating Quang Ninh’s tourism in post-COVID-19 times

13:53 | 03/06/2020
The authorities of Quang Ninh have provided significant support to buttress the province’s tourism – a strategic sector in the province – to recover in post-pandemic. For these plans to work, however, it is critical to ensure the co-operation of private businesses.
stimulating quang ninhs tourism in post covid 19 times
High-speed cruise Tuan Chau Express has began official operations along the Halong-Co To route in Quang Ninh province

VND200 billion ($8.7 million) injection

Quang Ninh has officially reopened intermunicipal transportation as well as commercial and tourism activities, and less than half a month later (May 14), the People’s Committee of Quang Ninh has organised its 17th meeting, focusing on stimulus plans for the province’s tourism for the year 2020.

“Among the municipalities with strong tourism sectors, Quang Ninh is the first to hold a People’s Committee meeting to discuss revitalising its tourism sector,” said Nguyen Thi Truc, director of the Quang Ninh branch of Vietravel and vice president of Quang Ninh’s Tourism Demand Stimulus Association.

According to estimates, the tourism stimulus plans would cost the province’s budget about VND200 billion ($8.7 million) in the from of tax reductions and exemptions as well as other fee reductions for local tourism companies.

Specifically, the province has completely foregone entrance fees to Ha Long Bay’s tourist attractions (not applicable for overnight tickets), Quang Ninh Museum, and Yen Tu Mountain from May 14, 2020 until June 1, 2020, along with 2020’s public holidays. Moreover, for the remainder of June and July, these entrance fees are also reduced by half, not applicable for overnight tickets.

The province has also subsidised bus tickets from Van Don International Airport to Doc Do (Phuong Dong ward, Uong Bi city) and back.

Speaking about the stimulus plans, Nguyen Thi Bao, president of the Quang Ninh Tourism Association, has stated that in light of the tremendous budgetary losses the province has suffered due to the tourism sector almost entirely freezing over in the first four months of the year, this is a huge effort from the authorities, and the tourism association and its members should seize this chance with both hands to build up appropriate products so that Quang Ninh can attract more visitors, especially locals, for the remainder of the summer.

Speaking about the products developed by Quang Ninh’s tourism demand stimulus alliance, which was formed on May 13, 2020, Truc Nguyen stated that there have been more than 100 companies in the transport, accommodation, and hospitality sectors who committed to reducing prices and service fees. The main products are two-night tours with free pick-up to and from the airport, city-round tours for visitors already in Ha Long, and complete tour packages with transportation service to and from places of residence.

"The actions of Quang Ninh’s management to provide cuts and exemptions from tax and other fees at local tourism attractions are like a vaccine to help businesses improve their immunity."

Nguyen Chi Thanh
Chairman, Sun Group Northeast Branch

Pham Ngoc Thuy, president of Quang Ninh Department of Tourism, commented: “The department is also planning to organise tourism demand stimulus activities in Nha Trang, Danang, and Dak Lak at the beginning of June. Depending on the situation, the department might expand the scope of these initiatives to international markets such as China, Northeast Asia, and ASEAN countries within this year.”

Talking for business members of the province’s Tourism Demand Stimulus Association, Nguyen Chi Thanh, chairman of the northeast branch of Sun Group – a leader in the hospitality industry – said that the tourism sector would not be able to recover immediately from the huge impacts of the COVID-19.

He likened the actions of Quang Ninh’s management to provide cuts and exemptions from tax and other fees at local tourism attractions to a vaccine to help businesses improve their immunity. These are the necessary actions, he claimed, to attract domestic visitors to Quang Ninh once the pandemic has been contained and to welcome international tourists still in 2020.

Vital unity and proactivity

According to Pham Hoan, CEO of Sealife, after Quang Ninh resumed transportation and tourism activities at the beginning of May, several businesses in the cruise and accommodation sectors have reduced prices by up to 70 per cent, even for overnight cruises. Several five-star cruises have launched hourly tours during the days as well.

Speaking of this, Pham Ngoc Thuy from Quang Ninh Department of Tourism commented that this was a sign of a lack of unity among the companies who failed to come up with a baseline to maintain the profitability of their operations while also maintaining high service quality.

The consequences of this might be severe as a reduction in service quality could result in unequal competitionwhich will cause chaos in the tourism market. Additionally, some companies might increase their prices for add-on services after they have managed to attract visitors to Quang Ninh to make up for the loss.

According to Pham Hoan, her company’s cruises have offered 15 different discounts for locals visitors. The majority of passengers are regular passengers who demand very high service quality, therefore the company cannot afford to reduce their prices anymore while maintaining the expected standards.

This is exactly the reason why Department of Tourism has called for the formation of the Tourism Demand Stimulus Associationto stabilise business operations of province-based companies in a fair and profitable market while at the same time providing good service for visitors.

Regarding the operation of the alliance, Nguyen Thi Truc from Vietravel’s Quang Ninh province branch has stated that when tailoring products for stimulus plans, the alliance could not involve all businesses offering similar products. Instead, the alliance should select businesses with the best service quality to ensure good impression for the image and reputation of Quang Ninh’s tourism.

Companies in the same sector and offering similar products should commit to maintain prices, with their portfolio shared with other tourism companies to co-operate and build appropriate tours.

“In order for the alliance to operate effectively, it is essential for businesses to be proactive and responsible. The authority has created an opportunity for businesses, now the ball is in their court to make it work," said Thuy.

Le Trong Thanh, vice director of Tung Lam Development Company which stands to benefit from the stimulus plans, has confirmed that the number of visitors has increased gradually since the beginning of May – and the pace has been far more rapid since May 14, when Quang Ninh reduced entrance fees to Yen Tu Mountain and Halong Bay.

Besides, during the weekend, Legacy Yen Tu deluxe resort has an occupancy rate of about 90 per cent. The resort has also halved the room prices from Monday through Thursday, and also reduced the price for all cable rides from VND350,000 ($15.2) to VND250,000 ($10.8) until the end of August.

Several cultural, sports, and tourism events in different regions of Quang Ninh have been greenlit to be held between May and October. With more than 70 events, Quang Ninh would charm many visitors in post-pandemic time.

Demand stimulus plan to Ha Long Bay (not applicable for overnight tickets) to Quang Ninh Museum and Yen Tu Mountain in 2020:

* Free entrance from May 14 to June 1, 2020

* Free entrance during public holidays and other significant events in 2020: June 28 (Vietnam Familty’s Day), July 9 (Vietnam Tourism Day), July 27 (Veterans’ Day), August 19 (August Revolution Day), September 2 (National Day), October 20 (Vietnam Women’s Day), November 11 (Vietnam Teachers’ Day), and December 22 (formation day of Vietnam’s National Army).

* 50 per cent discount for visitors in Ha Long Bay (not applicable for overnight tickets), Quang Ninh Museum, and Yen Tu Mountain for the remainder of June and July 2020.

By Thu Le

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