Tourists at the Củ Chi Tunnels in HCM City. — VNS Photo Thu Hằng
HCM CITY — The Government’s relief and credit packages are now vital to help HCM City travel firms survive the coronavirus crisis, a top official in the city Department of Tourism has said.
The domestic tourism sector, which had only recently started to recover, has suffered another setback with the return of coronavirus, Nguyễn Thị Ánh Hoa, the department’s deputy director, said.
Around 70 per cent of travel firms resumed operations in May thinking the COVID-19 pandemic was under control, she said.
The domestic travel market had started to recover with a city tourism stimulus programme that runs from June until the end of the year.
But then more than 35,000 bookings for tour packages, free and easy tours, hotels, air tickets, and travel services were cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, resulting in a loss of revenues of VNĐ21 billion (US$906,300), according to a report by the department.
Nearly 90 per cent of travel agencies in the city have temporarily shut shop with most of their staff being told to go on unpaid leave, according to the report.
Around 90 per cent of staff at three- to five-star hotels have been told to take unpaid leave or laid off. At others hotels, the rate is more than 80 per cent.
Hoa said the current economic uncertainty makes the Government’s relief packages imperative for travel firms survive.
But most find it extremely difficult to borrow under the programmes from banks or benefit from tax breaks, she admitted.
Less than 10 tour guides in the city have managed to get financial support from the Government’s social security package of VNĐ62 trillion ($2.66 billion) for people directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
There are 5,864 licensed tour guides in the city, including 3,544 who speak foreign languages. — VNS