|A French family visits a farm in Hội An. Farm lifestyle experiences are an option for tourists after an Old Quarter visit. VNS Photo Công Thành
HỘI AN — Despite tourism reopening this year, local businesses in Hội An have asked for more supportive solutions from the state for a full recovery after 90 per cent of travel enterprises closed or withdrew from the market in 2020-21.
A recent survey from Quảng Nam’s provincial tourism association unveiled that 95 per cent of 200 tourism businesses called for access to bank loans and preferred rates, eased debt payments, tax reductions, human resources and infrastructure investment.
Huỳnh Thị Minh from the Hội An tourism human resources club said 65 proposals from hotel owners, travel agencies and tourism service suppliers focused on financial assistance, market promotions, and refreshing Hội An's tourism brand.
“Local businesses proposed refreshing solutions for Hội An including more new destinations and shopping areas outside of the Old Quarter and boosting the use of environment-friendly transport vehicles,” Minh said. “They also called for a limit on commercialising and harassing tourists in the Old Quarter, while promoting the traditional lifestyle of local people in Hội An, and more pedestrian streets.”
It needs destinations for tourists from Asia, the US and Australia as well as the emerging markets of India, South Korea and France, she added.
Nguyễn Thị Minh Phượng from the Quảng Nam provincial tourism department said 65 per cent of tourism services had resumed, but only 56,000 foreign tourists out of 1.5 million had visited the province in the first half of 2022.
Hội An was seen as a favourite destination in Việt Nam when the UNESCO-recognised world heritage site hosted 60 per cent of total visitors (7 million in 2019) in Quảng Nam Province, she said.
Nguyễn Sơn Thủy, general secretary of the Quảng Nam Tourism Association, said local businesses had not yet fully recovered from the COVID-19 ‘shock’.
|Hội An, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is among the favourite destinations of foreign tourists in Việt Nam. VNA/VNS Photo
“Almost all travel businesses approached banks to help them ease pre-COVID-19 debt, while the workforce found new jobs in factories or home businesses. 90 per cent of tourism enterprises in Hội An have been struggling for survival,” Thủy said.
He said Việt Nam had hosted a record 18 million international tourists in 2019, of which 67 per cent were from China and Korea, but the number of tourists from these two major markets had not yet recovered due to pandemic lockdown policies.
“The Chinese market has not yet fully opened, and only individual tours were booked from Korea. Resorts and hotels in Việt Nam have hosted only a sixth of the previous number of tourists in 2019,” he explained. “We should arrange specific tour services and destinations for Indian tourists. Hội An could offer various options for tourists from India and Korea.”
Phạm Chương Hoàng, an expert from the national economics university, said good products, high-quality human resources, digital transformation, and tourism promotions were crucial proposals from local tourism businesses that would help them be ‘healthy’ again from a two-year pandemic illness.
“There should be visa extensions from one month to six months for longer stays, home-stay service promotion, and seeking more new markets,” Hoàng said.
“The domestic market was seen as a solution for the post COVID-19 tourism recovery plan, but high season time (summertime) is over and the market in Asia Pacific declined 70 per cent,” he said. “Tourism in Hội An and Quảng Nam has been refreshing its products by promoting ‘green’ tourism, ‘safe’, environment-friendly tour services. The COVID-19 damage also has forced Hội An tourism restructuring and diversifying.”
|A potter introduces ceramics at Thanh Hà Pottery village in Hội An. The destination attracts tourists for a craft village experience. VNS Photo Công Thành
Trần Quốc Quân from the Quảng Nam Provincial department of labour, invalid and social affairs said nearly 1 million labourers in the province were infected with COVID-19 in 2020-2021, of which 30,000 were self-employed persons and tourism workers in Hội An.
Reductions of insurance fees and allowances had been provided to thousands of businesses and unemployed workers in the tourism sector, he added.
Hội An and Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary – two UNESCO World Heritage sites – and the world biosphere reserve of the Hội An-Chàm Islands in Quảng Nam Province are among the favourite destinations of foreign tourists in Việt Nam along with Thừa Thiên Huế, Quảng Bình, Đà Nẵng, and Phú Quốc island in Kiên Giang Province. — VNS