Many hotels in Sầm Sơn City were forced to close due to lack of guests. Photo bvhttdl.gov.vn
Thanh Hóa Province is on the hunt for solutions to the prevailing crisis in the province’s tourism industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Almost 700 tourism businesses and more than 300 business households in Thanh Hóa have been severely affected by the pandemic.
To date, two travel companies and 16 accommodation providers have registered to temporarily suspend operations, while most of the remaining businesses operate intermittently.
Tourism businesses have felt massive drops in revenue but still have to maintain their operations, including paying bank interest, taxes, corporate income tax, rent, electricity and water, social insurance and staff salaries.
Lê Trường Sơn, director of two hotels in Sầm Sơn City, said that there were almost no guests staying at the hotels.
“Customers cancelled in bulk after the pandemic broke out,” he said.
“This is severely affecting our revenue. The company had previously repaired and upgraded the hotels at a cost of billions of Vietnamese đồng to prepare for the peak summer tourist season.”
“Fortunately, they are company hotels. If we had owned them, they would probably have closed a long time ago.
Sơn said the revenue of each hotel would usually reach about VNĐ 7 billion per month but that "it is currently almost nothing".
For Lê Doãn Sơn, owner of a hotel on Hồ Xuân Hương Street in the same city, things have been much worse.
“At the beginning of the year, my family signed a contract to sublet a hotel for business with a large initial investment cost, but now there are no guests, so it was forced to close,” he said.
“If the pandemic won’t stop, my family don’t know what to do. We are exhausted, so we need the State's support to be able to hold on.”
Just 76 days ago, Sầm Sơn beach was still crowded during the April 30-May 1 holidays. Photo thanhnien.vn
Recently, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has proposed that the People's Committee of Thanh Hóa Province lend capital from the provincial social policy bank at an interest rate of zero per cent.
The proposal also suggests prioritising spending from the provincial budget to support programmes related to tourism stimulus and human resources training so that as soon as the pandemic is under control the province's tourism can be restored.
The department also proposed policies to support tourism businesses such as vaccinating the workforce at accommodation facilities that can double as quarantine facilities.
They’ve also recommended discounting appraisal fees by up to half for official star-rating accreditation.
Restructuring debts, reducing and extending the loan repayment period and reducing lending interest rates for businesses are all included in the proposal.
One idea is for the suspension of insurance premiums to be extended without penalty so that employees’ health insurance cards will still be valid.
The province has also been promoting Thanh Hóa as “a safe, friendly and attractive destination".
Pù Luông Nature Reserve in Bá Thước District is one of the best natural destinations in the central province of Thanh Hóa. Photo kenh14.vn
The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Thanh Hóa also sees a key role for sea tourism and events.
"When the pandemic is under control, the province will continue to expand its promotions, and advertising programme and introduce stimulus packages to key tourist destinations via airlines,” Phạm Nguyên Hồng, director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Thanh Hóa, has said.
“We will focus on supporting businesses by organising training courses to improve the quality of human resources in the tourism sector, apply digital technology and develop smart tourism by promoting, advertising and managing businesses," he added.
The provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has also sent official letters to tourism businesses with COVID-19 guidelines.
Information technology, including electronic medical declarations via QR Codes, destination registration, and utilising the "Safe tourism in Vietnam” app will be key to the province’s success. VNS