COVID-19 Gives Viet Nam Advantage To Explore Particular Needs And Desires Of Domestic Tourism Market
08:20 | 07/04/2021

VGP - The domestic tourism market has been a little bit underestimated in Viet Nam and the COVID-19 situation may help the nation realize the importance of the domestic tourism market.

Head of Office and UNESCO Representative to Viet Nam Michael Croft - Photo: VGP/Thuy Dung

Head of Office and UNESCO Representative to Viet Nam Michael Croft made that statement during his interview with the Viet Nam Government Portal on measures to revive tourism market during the COVID-19 period.

Viet Nam has a population of almost 100 million people and not all of those people travel. But that still represents a significant number of people who travel and some people who often make more than one visit. Somewhere show the statistics for domestic travel for a year almost approach in a million different visits, stated Michael Croft.

“The COVID-19 has given Viet Nam in a way the advantage to explore the particular needs and desires of the domestic market as well as what are the Vietnamese tourists looking for in Viet Nam and what are the Vietnamese visitors appreciate”, he added.

Croft underlined two advantages for Viet Nam in the context of COVID-19 period. Firstly, the nation has an opportunity to discuss the significant role of domestic market and domestic tourism industry.

Vietnamese tourists are going to be looking for authentic and original experiences and products and to some extends encourage the sector to develop the sources of authentic experiences and products.

When international tourism and tourists start to come back, they will actually benefit that market too, because, of course, international arrivals who come to Viet Nam and want to explore the country are looking for this authentic experience and products that exist in this country.

Michael Croft took Boracay in the Philippines as an example when the tourism site faced pollution and plastic issues due to overcrowding before COVID-19 outbreaks so that the Philippine Government was forced to take a very drastic step for handle these issues in Boracay.

He said that the COVID-19 pandemic is a very good opportunity for Viet Nam and for other major tourist hubs to take this breathing space.

“It is time to have a look at things like doing visitor management plans, looking at the overall management structures, making the investments into some of the physical infrastructure, putting in place sustainable tourism policies and these things are being done in some world heritage sites in Viet Nam”, Croft suggested.

This is a big advantage although there is an economic difficulty and there's no doubt that the tourism sector has been badly hurt at this particular time but it's not going to last forever, said the UNESCO Representative, adding that in many places, localities are taking the time and putting in place the new policies for new infrastructure and new management systems that they need. When things get better that they will also be in a better position to move forward.

“There has been a bit of a breathing space for the tourism sector amidst COVID-19 period to take a look at itself and to see what was working in the past and what wasn't working in the past in order to move forward in a stronger, more realistic and sustainable way in the upcoming time”, said Croft.

Regarding the UNESCO’s further assistance for Viet Nam in enhancing sustainable tourism, Michael Croft highlighted that the UNESCO is interested in conservation of natural heritages in Viet Nam and the organization has been working with a number of the major sights and tourist areas such as Ha Long Bay, Hoi An (the central province of Quang Nam) and Trang An (the northern province of Ninh Binh) for this goal.

A number of discussions were held to start projects in a more sustainable approach for moving forward. In cases these major hubs welcome a large number of visitors, the local communities would be concerned about the impacts on the local environment and to a certain extend also on the local culture as well.

Both sides are also working on sustainable initiatives for sustainable tourism during the time of COVID-19 as well as try to adapt the projects for the recovery period.

Meanwhile, the UNESCO Office in Ha Noi is working together with its headquarters in Paris, France to launch a new pilot project in Hoi An and Trang An with the aim of providing new skills to tourism workers who have been badly hit in by the drop in the number of foreign tourists, he asserted.

VN’s tourism sector can recover by 2024, driven by return of domestic travel

According to McKinsey & Company, the trusted advisor and counselor to many of the world's most influential businesses and institutions, the sharp drop in foreign travelers has had an outsize impact on tourism expenditures—and Viet Nam’s overall economy—because they spend significantly more than their local counterparts.

In 2019, a year in which the tourism industry accounted for 12% of the country’s GDP, international travelers made up only 17% of overall tourists in Viet Nam, yet accounted for more than half of all tourism spending—averaging US$673 per traveler compared with US$61 spent on average by domestic travelers. The tourism sector created 660,000 jobs between 2014 and 2019, and this sharp expenditure dive has also stunted the country’s food and beverage and retail industries.

Viet Nam has pursued a zero-case-first strategy since the start of the pandemic. This strategy is associated with markets in which COVID-19 transmission rates are low and—as a result—traveler confidence, at least on a domestic level, is relatively high.

By implementing the zero-case-first approach and taking into account Viet Nam’s currently resilient local economy and proactive government campaigns, Viet Nam’s tourism sector could recover to precrisis levels in 2024.

Local demand can be revitalized by focusing on emerging destinations with the joint cooperation of local governments, online travel agencies, attractions, hotels, and airlines. Outdoor tourism that involves sunshine, beaches, mountains, and nature were among the top choices for Vietnamese travelers, and airports at the two big travel hubs of Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi were busy. To further tap into the domestic opportunity, operators will have to focus on affordability while striving to maintain high-quality products and experience.

McKinsey & Company suggests travel companies need to be flexible and nimble to capture early international-travel demand—and should be prepared to implement strict health and safety protocols that fulfill the stipulations of both domestic and destination security policies.

By Thuy Dung



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