06:00 | 27/04/2020 Society
(VEN) - Vietnam is trying to juggle between its desire to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and to maintain its reputation as a friendly, hospitable destination for the tourists and other foreigners still visiting the country.
A group of 18 European tourists was recently denied entry by authorities in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum. They were forced to go to neighboring Dak Lak Province instead, where a hotel only accepted them after persistent persuasion by the tour company. The group subsequently canceled their itineraries to Hoi An in central Vietnam and planned stops in the north, cutting short their visit by a week and returning home on March 20 rather than March 28. Members of the group accepted the changes in their itinerary with understanding, and some said they would return once the pandemic was controlled.
The pandemic cut an estimated US$7 billion off Vietnam’s tourism revenues in January-February with the number of hotel guests decreasing by 60-70 percent, Government Office Chief Mai Tien Dung said.
Recently, many hotels and tourist establishments refused to receive foreigners, especially European tourists, after it transpired that 22 Europeans and two Americans were diagnosed with Covid-19 while in Vietnam.
To maintain the image of Vietnam as a friendly, hospitable, and safe destination, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said any act of discrimination against foreign tourists would be strictly punished.
Following the prime minister’s direction, the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee has sent letters to visitors in two versions, in Vietnamese and English, asking them to cooperate with local authorities in preventing the pandemic and keeping safe, and urging them to continue viewing Vietnam as a trusted destination for their next vacation.
Quang Binh Province temporarily halted tourism in an attempt to protect the health and safety of both local residents and tourists. In a letter sent to visitors, the Quang Binh Tourism Department said it was looking forward to receiving understanding and cooperation. The letter advised visitors to use food and beverage services at their accommodations and restrict visits to crowded places.
Authorities in the leading tourist destinations of Hue, Hoi An and Da Nang have urged hotels and restaurants to be friendly to foreign tourists.
Vietnam is one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, with revenue in 2019 reaching some US$30 billion.
In 2018, international arrivals to Vietnam reached 15.5 million, up 2.7 million compared to 2017, while the number of
domestic tourists grew by 6.8 million compared to 2017, to an estimated 80 million in 2018. Tourism contributes over
six percent to Vietnam’s GDP and is a powerful investment magnet.