The sector has mapped out three scenarios for its recovery this year based on reopening the country to international visitors in June, September or December, said Nguyen Huu Tho, Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association.
Whatever the scenario, the maximum number of international tourists expected is just 4.6 million while the number of domestic tourists expected is around 34 million, he told a recent meeting held in HCM City.
Last year those numbers were 18 million and 82 million.
For the time being, the country’s borders are firmly shut, and the industry is now focused on reopening to domestic tourism, Thọ said.
Domestic travel began to recover in mid-May with the launch of a national campaign titled “Vietnamese People Travel in Vietnam”.
The campaign that will run until the end of this year aims to boost domestic tourism with the involvement of the entire value chain across airlines, hotels and resorts, restaurants, tourist sites, travel agencies, tour operators, and tourism service providers to put in place quality tourism products and service packages at reasonable prices.
“For now the fear of coronavirus transmission is one of the biggest barriers to domestic tourism,” Tho said.
“It is vital to strengthen propaganda efforts to make people feel safe about travelling domestically.”
Nguyen Tri Dung, Director of the HCM City Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said though the coronavirus situation is now under control and the risk of community transmission is very low, it is still a major concern among travellers and holiday makers.
The country is not going to open all at once, he said.
The tourism sector should gradually take steps to revive domestic tourism and adhere to strict infection prevention measures, he said.
Vo Anh Tai, Deputy General Director of Saigontourist Group, said HCM City should step up efforts to promote itself as a safe destination after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
Hotels and tourist attractions in the city are complying with mandatory health and safety protocols to prevent coronavirus transmission to employees and customers, he said.
The city’s tourism authorities should launch stimulus programmes to encourage city residents to learn about the city’s historical and cultural values, he said.
Surveys show that many people in HCM City have very little knowledge about its historical and cultural attractions, he added.
Vo Thi Ngoc Thuy, Deputy Director of the city Department of Tourism, said a campaign called “Hello HCM City” would be rolled out soon as part of efforts to introduce new tourism products and make over the city’s tourism image.
There would be a tourism stimulus programme offering 70 tours at reasonable prices with the participation of 24 travel firms and six hotels, she added.