Hoi An businesses, workers pin hopes on tourism revival
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Foreigners take a group photo in Hoi An ancient town, Quang Nam Province, March 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh
Tourism dependent businesses and workers in Hoi An are eager to welcome tourists back and recharge careers that have been dormant for two years.
Hotels, restaurants and other tourist facilities in the ancient town have been renovating their facilities. The town has shown signs of regaining its pre-pandemic bustle.
When colorful hot air balloons were arranged along the Hoai River on March 24 as part of a series of events to welcome the National Tourism Year 2022, many hotels opened their doors to welcome guests and coffee shops began to get crowded.
Colorful hot air balloons are arranged along the Hoai River in Hoi An ancient town, March 24, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh
Ten days ago, a restaurant chain along Cua Dai beach hired people to clean up the facility and rearrange tables and chairs, and install outdoor lighting. Some shops have been buying more artificial grass to spread on the sand.
Cua Dai beach, which used to be favored spot of Western tourists, has been left in dire straits by severe coastal erosion exacerbated by the pandemic.
Nguyen Le Quyen, 25, manager of the Hoa Hung restaurant on Cua Dai, said that before the pandemic the restaurant used to serve 500 guests at a time.
"Though we have resumed operations after a long time of closure due to the pandemic, we only have a few customers a day. There are days we only sell a few coconuts," she said.
Quyen said she was expecting the reopening of international tourism will help tourism-reliant workers to "revive" after nearly two years of struggling with the pandemic.
This year, Hoi An has organized many tours for tourists to experience what officials call green tourism products.
The Thanh Dong organic vegetable village in Cam Thanh Commune has become famous for its green gardens. Over the last few days, residents have been doing their farm work with greater enthusiasm, hoping that tourists will return soon.
Dinh Thi Mien, 68, one of 10 vegetable growing households in Thanh Dong, said that in the past, the vegetable garden had opened its doors to serve tourists and sell organic vegetables to them and local restaurants. This helped them earn about VND6-7 million a month, she said.
Dinh Thi Mien in her 400-square-meter garden at Thanh Dong organic vegetable village in Cam Thanh Commune, Hoi An, March 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh
However, they were badly affected as tourism activities were suspended because of the pandemic.
In her 400-square-meter garden, Mien grows a variety of herbs and veggies including basil, perilla, chili, eggplant, zucchini and lemon.
She felt happy to hear that Vietnam has fully reopened international tourism and is eager for tourists to return after a long time.
Nguyen Van Chuc, 66, who manages the vegetable village, said some travel companies have contacted him to bring back tourists.
"We want to see the return of tourists but we are also a little worried about catching Covid infections from tourists as most of us are over 60 years old," Chuc said.
Tran Van Khoa, director of the Jack Tran Tours Hoi An Tourism Company, which specializes in operating eco-tours, said although it was not yet the peak summer vacation, many groups of tourists were ready to visit Hoi An.
"I hope the National Tourism Year event would be a turning point in reviving tourism in Quang Nam and neighboring localities like Da Nang and Hue," he said.
Khoa said his company currently has more than 30 employees, about 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
Quang Nam Province is hoping to welcome 4.2 million domestic tourists this year and targets tourism revenues of VND6 trillion ($263 million).
In 2019, the year before the onset of the pandemic, it received 7.6 million visitors, over half of them foreigners.
Vietnam, which closed inbound tourism in March 2020, allowed foreign visitors quarantine-free entry from March 15 after nearly two years of stringent restrictions.
It has also resumed its visa waiver policy for citizens from 24 countries, including Japan, South Korea and several European economies.