Hanoi (VNA) – The relapse of SARS-CoV-2 in Vietnam has affected not only small but also bigtravel businesses. Experts have held that digital solutions are among the ways out for enterprises.

So far, COVID-19 has caused greatlosses to the tourism sector. Thousands of companies, big and small alike, which seemed to manage to recover after the first wave of COVID-19 thanks to promotion programmes, have been totally beaten by the second wave of the pandemic.

Bankruptcy has been a common situation for both big and small businesses. The restructuring of resources is a hard nut that requires efforts of leaders of sectors as well as the Government to crack.

In the eye of the storm

Statistics from the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism show that so far, 90-95 percent of the local travel firms have halted their operations. Only few are running in the hope of dealing with debts to partners and customers, while their staff membershave worked online at home or taken unpaid leave.

The situation is even worse for accommodation facilities. Bookings from July to September as well as contracts for conventions, wedding parties and events gathering from 30 people have been cancelled. Many hotel owners have laid off their staff, closed their facilities, and put them up for sale.

The occupancy rate of rooms have reduced by 90 percent, while the number of workers in accommodation facilities also dropped 61 percent over the same time last year, with 87.4 percent are on unpaid leave. At the same time, activities of transportation firms and entertainment centres have also suspended.

Meanwhile, the majority of travel firms and hotels in Hanoi have temporary closed downto wait for the pandemic to be totally controlled, only 10 percent have maintained limited operations. As a result, 100 percent of tour guides have no job to do.

Digital solutions – way out for tourism firms from COVID-19 pandemic relapse ​ hinh anh 1An agent of Vietnam Airlines has closed due to the pandemic (Photo: VietnamPlus)

This is the hardest crisis for the Vietnamese tourism in 60 years. The COVID-19 “storm” has completely destroyed the struggling firms. All set targets have become unreachable, while many plans designed by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) have also been suspended or changed to fit the pandemic prevention and control measures.

In this context, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung said that among the 22 items in the VNAT work list for 2020, except for activities gathering a large number of people that must be postponed or adjusted, the rest will be implemented. So far, COVID-19 cases have been reported in only some provinces and cities, but tourism sites and hotels in other localities have seen few visitors due to travelers’ caution.

Digital solutions to tourism amidst pandemic

At a working session between the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism and the VNAT last weekend, Deputy Minister Hung highlighted that the major task to be implemented immediately is ensuring the “dual target” set by the Government. He said that the tourism sector should promptly sketch out a digital map of safe tourism and give policy recommendations so as to provide practical and timely support to tourism firms to help them overcome difficulties.

Leaders of the ministry asked the VNAT to coordinate with relevant agencies to build and put into use a digital map on safe tourism which provides information on safe tourist sites.

Digital solutions – way out for tourism firms from COVID-19 pandemic relapse ​ hinh anh 2A tourist site crowded with visitors before being hit by COVID-19 pandemic (Photo: VietnamPlus)

The guidelines aim to help tourists choose a safe place to visit and support travel firms to design their plans for recovery.

Amidst the complicated development of the pandemic which has caused losses amounting to hundreds of billions VND, experts held that businesses should not only scruntinise their organisation but also take advantage of technology.

Virtual workers like chatbot can replace 80 percent of the telesales and customer service staff. Meanwhile, the customer relationship management tools can help the firms control online staff effectively in the pandemic periods.

Businesses should also consider the use of email marketing to interact with customers in case they have to cut down personnel, while designing websites to support them in selling tickets and tours right after recovery signs are seen in the market, advised the experts.

If the whole tools are applied in this hard period, businesses will only have to pay the cost equivalent to the salary for one or two staff members each month, which is a solution for them to save themselves in this situation, they said./.