Tourists cancel Hanoi, Da Nang trips as Covid-19 outbreak escalates

 Tourists cancel Hanoi, Da Nang trips as Covid-19 outbreak escalates

Trang Tien Street near Hanoi's Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake is left deserted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, February 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.

With community transmissions resurfacing, many travelers have canceled tours to coronavirus-hit travel destinations like Hanoi and Da Nang.

Nguyen Thanh Tung, an English teacher living in Ho Chi Minh City's Binh Thanh District, and his mother on Wednesday postponed their next week trip to Hanoi though they had booked flight tickets and hotel accommodation.

Tung had earlier canceled his plans to return to his hometown Hanoi during the Lunar New Year holiday due to the previous outbreak in late January. With the pandemic under control, he again booked air tickets late last month to the capital city, planning to take his mother to visit tourist attractions like Ha Long Bay and Sa Pa later on.

But the surge in community transmissions in Hanoi and northern provinces over the past week dashed all of his hopes.

"I accept losing money to ensure health safety. If I visited Hanoi now, there would be a high risk of contracting the virus since the source of transmission remains unknown and anyone could spread it in the community," the 27-year-old said.

"My mother is now 65 years old and vulnerable to Covid-19 infection, especially since the ongoing outbreak is linked to new virus strains from the U.K. and India."

As of Thursday morning, Hanoi had recorded 27 community transmissions, 22 of them linked to the cluster at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in the capital's Dong Anh District, a frontline facility in the Covid-19 fight. Several parts of Hanoi are now under lockdown while all tourist destinations have been closed.

Bui Thanh Tu, marketing director of a Hanoi-based travel agency, said in the year to April 28, when the new outbreak began, the number of customers booking tours through his company had reached 3,000, five times higher than the same period last year. However, everything has changed. Hanoi has now recorded 27 domestic infections and Tu's company started seeing tour cancelations en masse. His company estimated to lose VND100 million ($4,350) a day as a result.

Avoiding the crowds during the Reunification holiday (April 30-May 3), Le Thu Hang in HCMC and her family planned to visit the central beach city of Da Nang and Hoi An in neighboring province Quang Nam from May 11-15.

The resurgence of community transmissions in Da Nang and Quang Nam, however, forced her to cancel the trip though she had paid nearly VND20 million ($870) for air tickets.

Unable to get a refund, Hang was allowed to postpone her hotel booking to within the next six months

"I regret the money but my husband has a history of type 2 diabetes. Therefore, we can't risk our lives to travel at this time," she said, adding "there would be other occasions to travel, while we only have one life to live."

Da Nang, home to the famed Golden Bridge and beautiful beaches like My Khe, Non Nuoc and Nam O, has recorded two community transmissions in which the source has yet to be identified while Quang Nam reported one.

Cao Tri Dung, chairman of Da Nang Tourism Association, told VnExpress International that based on statistics from travel companies and businesses, about 20-30 percent of visitors have cancelled their tours to the city since the country's new outbreak resurfaced in late April.

The popular tourist hub, with a coastline of 30 kilometers, has closed all public beaches and suspended tourism services since May 3 amid the complicated Covid-19 developments.

People flock to Da Nang beach April 29 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong.

People flocked to a beach in Da Nang City on April 29, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong.

Without foreign tourists due to border closures and flight suspension, travel companies had been banking on domestic tourism to survive as the summer holiday season approaches, but the new wave has dashed their hopes.

According to statistics from travel agencies in HCMC, many people have canceled their tours planned for the end of May, June and July, the peak months of the summer travel season.

Pham Quy Huy, director of HCMC-based travel agency Kiwi Travel, said 80 percent of the firm's customers have canceled their trips while many clients have asked to reschedule their tours set to depart in the next months.

Huy said if the new outbreak turns more complicated, his company could lose VND1 billion ($43,500) while major travel companies could forfeit billions of VND invested in boosting summer travel demand.

Nguyen Minh Man, head of marketing at HCMC-based TST Tourist Co., said the new outbreak came right at the peak of the summer travel season and if the outbreak lasts until the end of May or June, domestic tourism would succumb.

Starting April 27, Vietnam has suffered a new Covid-19 outbreak with different clusters in various localities. Previously, the nation had gone over a month without community infections.

In the new outbreak, 64 locally-transmitted cases have been recorded in ten localities, including 14 each in northern Ha Nam and Vinh Phuc provinces.

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