Hanoi (VNA) – COVID-19 pandemic has been a “black shadow” covering the whole world, causing fear and drowning tourism into gloomy situation. Amidst the complicated developments of the pandemic, tourism has little hope for fast recovery.

In the early months of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has haunted not only Vietnamese tourism sector but the whole global economy.

The situation has placed travel companies into a “clinically dead” condition, making the majority of labourers in the sector unemployed. When the “smokeless” industry will recover and what support policies are needed to support tourism workers to overcome the situation remain tough puzzles.

Forecastson world economy

According to Oxford Economics, the world leading economic consultation group, the time for the global tourism sector to recover to what it was like in 2019 is 2022. The prediction was given based on surveys of businesses, destinations and economies of more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

Oxford Economics held that because of the impacts of COVID-19, the Asia-Pacific region will not able to make up the 2020 slump in 2021 but 2022. Due to countries’ travel restrictions, the number of international tourists this year will fall sharply compared to that in 2019.

Earlier, Oxford Economics forecast that if COVID-19 maintains for eight months, the world tourism sector will suffer losses of 49 billion USD and even 73 billion USD if the pandemic stays longer. This means the world will have to spend a double time for recovery, which falls in 2022.

The complicated developments of the pandemic have frozen the global tourism sector. Therefore, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has called on governments to act quickly to support the “smokeless industry”.

Time for tourism to revive remains unsure hinh anh 1It may takes the tourism sector 12-18 months to recover completely (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Statistics from the WTTC showed that the travel and tourism sector has contributed 10.4 percent to the global GDP and produced 320 million jobs, which means in every five new jobs, one is in tourism sector. Particularly, in eight consecutive months, the industry’s growth was higher than that of the world economy.

Recognising the sector’s important role in the economy, WTTC President Gloria Guevara proposed three solution groups to protect millions of tourism workers around the world who are facing the risk of losing their jobs.

The top solution is giving financial support to workers in most-affected areas. Secondly, it is necessary to provide zero-interest and long-term loans to tourism businesses, especially small and medium ones, to save them from bankruptcy.

The least but not last, it is crucial to exempt all kinds of taxes and fees as well as other financial requirements for the tourism sector in at least 12 months, held Guevara.

The strong and timely measures of governments are expected to not only savage tourism firms from the bankruptcy risk but also contribute to preventing the COVID-19-caused health crisis from becoming an economic disaster.

For Vietnam

 Meanwhile in Vietnam, tourism has entered a slump period when a series of travel firms have had to halt their operations. The situation is contrary to that in 2019 when the domestic tourism sector celebrated the highest-ever number of foreign tourists at 18 million, along with various world awards.

Experts held that this April, the number of foreign tourists to Vietnam will hit the bottom after a 68 percent year-on-year fall recorded in March. Due to the increasingly complicated developments of COVID-19, almost all countries have intensified measures to control the spreading of the disease. Domestic visitors have had to travel “through the TV”, making the situation more difficult than ever.

In this context, Le Tuan Anh, Director of the Tourism Information Centre under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, asserted that the time when the Vietnamese tourism sector recovers depends on the time when COVID-19 is controlled in the world.

Anh held that if the pandemic ends in late June 2020, the domestic tourism sector will gradually recover in the end of the year, but the total number of foreign tourists to Vietnam may fall by 70 percent over 2019 to only 5.5 million.

Tourists will mostly come from regional markets, as optimistic signs in pandemic control are being seen in Asia, which shows earlier recovery than other markets in Europe, Northern America and Australia, he said.

Meanwhile, if the pandemic finishes in September, the number of tourists in the whole year will be down by 75 percent to 4.6 million, and if the situation becomes worse, Vietnam will almost see no foreign arrivals from April to December, leading to a plunge of 80 percent for 2020, stopping at only 3.7 million recorded in the first three years of 2020.

Time for tourism to revive remains unsure hinh anh 2

However, no one can be sure when COVID-19 will end, but the damage it causes has been in everywhere. Many travel firms have bankrupted, a great deal of hotels and restaurants have been closed, while a large number of tour guides have to seek new jobs.

Action needed

Amidst the urgent situation, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has proposed the Government roll out solutions to remove difficulties for the tourism sector after collecting ideas from localities and businesses.

The ministry suggested the exemption of value added tax (VAT) for tourism activities and travel businesses in the first, second and third quarters of 2020, along with a 50 percent cut in VAT for the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021.

Time for tourism to revive remains unsure hinh anh 3New journeys can only take place after the pandemic is controlled.

It also proposed allowing travel firms and tour guides to pay VAT and a number of other taxes and fees late until June 2021, while reducing the land use and land leasing taxes for hotels, resorts, tourism sites and entertainment centres in 2020 to help them recover.

The ministry also recommended the launching of a financial package for tourism firms to refund for tours. The package will help businesses to issue “coupons” with the validity of 12-18 months with the valueequivalent to the tours the firms had booked for customers that could not be used due to the pandemic or unpredictable reasons.

The Prime Minister has approved the proposal of applying production power prices for restaurants and accommodation service providers instead of service prices.

Many travel firms have voiced their hopes to receive more Government support so as to recover quickly after the pandemic is over./.