Vietnamese tourism requires a master programme hinh anh 1Illustrative photo: VNA

Hanoi (VNA) – More policies are needed to help the tourism sector and travel agencies overcome difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Facing the difficulties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, managers and businesses all see that the domestic market as a vital solution to the Vietnamese tourism industry. Many domestic tourism stimulus programmes were implemented as soon as the pandemic was put under control.

However, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien said that all measures taken thus far have been connected between several provinces and cities, with efforts made to renew old products.

Thien stressed the need to learn from other countries’ experiences.

An “unprecedented” crisis

COVID-19 has caused heavy damage, leading to an unprecedented decline in related industries and social life in the country, such as aviation, accommodation, food and beverage. The tourism sector’s economic losses are estimated at more than 50 trillion VND (2.16 billion USD).

“Therefore, we see clearly the role and the pervasiveness of tourism which is an integrated economic sector closely attached to relevant industries and sectors. The current problem of the tourism industry is also a common problem of many related industries,” said Thien.

The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) considers the COVID-19 pandemic a crisis causing the most serious consequence for the history of international tourism since 1950 and putting an end to sustainable growth for 10 consecutive years since the financial crisis in 2009.

Vietnamese tourism requires a master programme hinh anh 2An experience of tourists when taking a tour to central region (Photo: VNA)

The UNWTO also forecast that international tourism in 2020 will decrease by about 70 percent year-on-year, with the number of tourists down between 850 million and 1.1 billion arrivals, and revenue losses of between 950 billion USD and 1.2 trillion USD, and 100-120 million labourers affected directly.

The post-pandemic recovery of international tourism will be slower than previous crises such as SARS (11 months), the September 11 terrorist attacks (14 months) and the world economic crisis in 2009 (19 months).

UNWTO experts predict that international tourism will begin to recover from the third quarter of 2021 and reach the pre-pandemic level of 2019 at the earliest until 2023. Countries with a high proportion of domestic tourism will recover sooner and faster after COVID-19.

Countries race to offer stimulus programmes

The fact shows that there are six main measures used by national tourism agencies of countries around the world when recovering domestic tourism, including discounts, promotions, product development, public-private partnerships, market data collection, and training and capacity improvement.

The Thai Government, for example, implemented the “We Travel Together” programme from July 15 to October 31, providing 5 million nights of hotel stays with the price equivalent to only 40 percent of the original price.

Vietnamese tourism requires a master programme hinh anh 3A tourist poses for a photo at Ba Be Lake in Bac Kan province (Photo: VNA)

The Thai Government has also financed holiday expenses of about 1.2 million medical staff and volunteers at hospitals to honour their contributions to the fight against the pandemic.

Meanwhile, in July, the Singaporean Government spent 45 million SGD (33.5 million USD) on carrying out the “SingaporeRediscovers” campaign encouraging people to support domestic tourism services.

Malaysia has also allocated 500 million MYR (113 million USD) to domestic travel coupons to encourage domestic tourism while reducing personal taxes up to 1,000 MYR (227 USD) for people to spend related to domestic tourism.

Vietnamese tourism requires a master programme hinh anh 4One-pillar Pagoda – a symbol of Hanoi (Photo: VNA)

The necessity of a ‘master programme

In the past, leaders of Vietnam’s tourism industry have worked with localities to implement many programmes to stimulate domestic tourism, which initially show positive signs. However, so far, the only measures taken have been to connect several provinces and cities to renew old products.

Therefore, to solve difficulties, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has proposed the Government and the Prime Minister as well as ministries, sectors and localities to create new policies to help the tourism sector and travel agencies overcome difficulties and make the best preparations to recover the international tourism market when conditions permit.

It is also important to increase public investment in tourism development, especially in infrastructures such as airports and seaports.

Vietnamese tourism requires a master programme hinh anh 5Illustrative photo: VNA

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will coordinate with the Ministry of Information and Communications to build a master plan on digital transformation in tourism until 2030 to serve tourism development.

Thien asked related ministries and sectors to actively join hands in ensuring disease prevention and control, building a supply chain for tourism development, diversifying products, and intensifying human resources training and tourism promotion./.