Many travel activities have been frozen across Vietnam by the outbreak of Covid-19 but it is time some travel firms of Hanoi have developed other services to survive and rebound after the pandemic.
Struggling with difficulties
Bui Bang Giang (middle) and her team. Photos: Comida Ngon
Bui Bang Giang, Co-founder of Asia Exotica Vietnam Travel, said she was forced to suspend tour operations in Vietnam and foreign countries in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic prompted a city social distancing order requiring all nonessential businesses to close.
Giang, who has 15-year experience in the tourism industry, told The Hanoi Times that she, at first, was quite shocked when a series of bookings were canceled. However, she realized that she needed to calm down and find a way to maintain the company’s operation and retain her employees.
After a short time of studying the market, Giang launched her own new business project of providing flower offerings, called Comida Ngon. “My project works well. I have received many orders and good responses from customers.”
“With this business model, I can both inspire the Vietnamese culture as well as retain the current tourism personnel, continue waiting for the reopening of the tourism industry,” she said.
Sets of Vietnamese flower offerings
Giang is not the only tour designer in the capital city who has found their own way to survive amid the pandemic while getting ready for tourism service after the pandemic.
Hanoi-based AZA Travel Company has transferred its staff from tour operation to craft beer arm. They sell craft beer online and provide home delivery when the supply of restaurants and hotels declined due to the impact of the outbreak.
CEO AZA Nguyen Tien Dat said the 4th wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has destroyed his plans of tourism service for this year.
“I had planned to hire more employees to expand its operations. Many new services had been deployed to take advantage of the peak travel season in summer, but everything has been ruined.”
In the capital’s Dong Da District-headquartered Vietsense Travel, the company’s CEO Nguyen Van Tai has switched from travel to provide dining services. “This business has brought me a small profit, but it is still the best choice for me at this time.”
However, in the long term, Tai believed opportunities for the food-service business are so large that the company will continue to boost up this business.
For a short-term solution, Tai said the Government should exempt corporate income tax and reduce 50% of value-added tax for tourism enterprises, especially tour operators. Travel companies need government financial support to cover payroll costs and keep the core workforce, he added.
More efforts needed
Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square, one of the popular destinations for visitors to Hanoi. HNT Photo: Khanh Huy
The Hanoi Tourism Department has been providing tourist guides with support of VND3.71 million (US$161.5) each in an effort to support businesses and employees in tourism overcome difficulties.
However, that support seems like “a drop in the bucket” as the country is still struggling with the outbreak, which is currently seen more seriously as facing the fast-spreading Delta Covid variant.
Nguyen Anh Tuan, Director of the Institute for Tourism Development Research under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism said, this is the most difficult stage in the history of the tourism industry.
“However, the industry’s businesses need to set up a detailed plan as well as prepare human resources and conditions for acceleration and increasing international competitiveness when tourism revives,” he said.
He added, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there would be a great shortage of tourism manpower that cannot be filled in a short time.
Tourism, like any other industry, requires highly qualified personnel with experience accumulated through daily operations and on-the-job training. “Therefore, the retention of professional workers and high-quality human resources to prepare for tourism recovery is a problem that needs to be handled in many ways,” Tuan recommended.