The Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) of Vietnam has promptly submitted its recommendations for industry and Government actions as soon as Covid-19 appeared in Vietnam. Since the pandemic has transformed a lot, could you please share whether the proposed solutions should be accordingly modified?
No one could predicted how the epidemic would be since it’s been transforming constantly. Tourism market is now filled with two concerns including the inexistence of tourism platform and the change of demand, purchasing power and habits of the consumers. Indeed, I firmly believe that demand and purchasing power will be different if the global economy is driven into recession. Likewise, the long period of fighting against disease has made the habits of the visitors different a lot. For instance, the old people may less travel than before. In addition, many travellers stop visiting the large theme parks. They will start their trips with more careful and selective planning.
The situation is unpredictable, however, TAB certainly accompanies and assists the Government on the related policies which mainly focus on how to ensure the existence of businesses, maintain operations, as well as suggesting solutions for each case of disease at all levels.
Additionally, it’s required to stay composed grasping and monitoring information, data, news happening in other countries as well as listening to the experts’ opinions in the current situation. TAB is also applying these principles on working with leading partners in the country and around the world to select the most accurate information. On that basis, we will propose the most appropriate recommendations to the Government of Vietnam.
Being TAB President, how do you evaluate the response of businesses in the tourism industry when Covid-19 turned into a new stage with worse impacts?
I see that most businesses behave in a civilized manner during this period. We all understands the necessity of acting together and what should be given priority. The safety and health of employees, customers and community should be in top of mind. We are required to comply with the social isolation rules of the Government. This is also the suitable time to invest in the areas that we have not had time to implement such as technology, maintenance and repair.
There has been no sign of excessive fear up to now. From my perspective, we will overcome this crisis if we remain this civilized manner. I surely believe that the Covid-19 will be over by one way or another (either by the vaccine or specific treatment is found). Opportunities will come back when people travel again. In the near future, we can discuss about the opportunities and growth of the tourism. For the time being, when the market is closed down, we must be mentally ready to stay with this difficulties for a long time.
You said in a previous interview with us that Covid-19 is an opportunity to restructure the tourism industry. But at present, what is the priority when the tourism platform is 0 as you just also shared?
It’s existence. Market restructuring is always a matter to discuss under any circumstances and it can’t be denied that Covid-19 epidemic is also an opportunistic crisis.
In general, when things are changing very fast, business leaders have to focus on the most urgent problems of how to save costs, how to improve cash flows, how to save our business. It’s hard to talk about growth and future now but we will do later in another day.
Speaking about existence, what support do tourism businesses need, from your standpoint?
The Government has mentioned about the delay of tax and social insurance payment, as well as offered some solutions to support labours. However, we still need stronger and faster measures. A coin on hard days will be much more valuable and meaningful than many coins on regular days.
The Government has taken further actions such as raising fiscal policy to VND 180,000 billion. Besides, the VND 285,000 billion credit package has also been actively implemented by commercial banks. In your opinion, are those measures strong enough?
Before talking about businesses, I want to emphasize that many people, especially the disadvantage groups, are in need of assistance at this stage. The number of unemployed people is increasing rapidly. The issues can turn into social crisis if they are not handled quickly. However, due to limited amount of resources, we should prioritize supporting health sector in anti-epidemic efforts and then the disadvantaged groups in the society.
In terms of saving businesses, each government takes a different ways to ensure employment after the epidemic. Vietnam’s has chosen supporting cash flow for businesses, help them continue operating and paying salaries for employees from 8 to 12 weeks or from 3 to 6 months. The business support policy is extremely important, so the businesses can resume operations as soon as the virus is over.
Looking at the current anti-epidemic actions of the Government, is there any possible scenario for the tourism market to recover?
As I said, the situation is unforeseen at the moment due to the spread and impact of the epidemic worldwide. The outbreak is at peak in this country or in another ones globally; however, the peak and the recovery among them are not the same. I strongly believe that the market will be recovered after the world declares the end of the epidemic.
Specifically, this recovery mostly depends on the Chinese market which account for more than 30% of total international visitors to Vietnam before the outbreak of Covid-19. In addition, Korean tourists also hold for a big proportion. The next markets include Australia, New Zealand, Eastern Europe, England, USA and India, a new market of Vietnam.
As such, the best scenario is that Vietnam’s tourism can recover in the V-shape, that is, go down to the bottom and then rebound equivalently to initial decline or in the U-shape – depending on the speed of epidemic settlement and economic recovery in Vietnam and globally. The market will be completely recovered within 12 to 18 months.
However, there are many other scenarios such as the L-shaped (takes many years to reach back the level of 2019) or the W-shaped (partially recovered then closed again because outbreak returns). These scenarios refer to restoration that could take years.
Talking about recovery, we are required to talk about the change of customers’ experiences and habits, which is a certainty in the aftermath of the Covid-19 epidemic. This is unpredictable and businesses are forced to regularly look at customer data as well as psychological, emotional and other external environmental factors. Surely, the market will not be the same as the one we used to know.
What slogan do you choose for Vietnam tourism after the disease?
This completely depends on the assessment of the market and the positioning of Vietnamese tourism. There should be a slogan that clarifies who we are, what our products are, and how to position them in the market.
TAB will work with experts and leading tourism corporations to find out the most appropriate slogan for Vietnam. I trust tourism will again become a driver of job growth and economic prosperity.
I hope you are all staying health and safe!
Thank you for sharing!