29.12.2021, 13:43

Tourism industry needs to innovate and adapt

Tourism industry needs to innovate and adapt

Illustrative photo.

This is why all businesses connected with tourism activities are being cautious in their approach to reopening under the new normal conditions. The businesses that have survived so far are trying to find the best solutions to adapt to essential future procedures and overcome obstacles that could possibly arise with the ongoing pandemic.

Awaiting opportunity

Within just twenty days after Ho Chi Minh City decided to reopen for tourism activities, the Vietravel Tourism Company said that it has officially reopened about 30 tour offices and travel services nationwide. Following this, on 15 November, six foreign tourism offices of Vietravel in Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, France, and the US also reopened to serve local and foreign tourists.

Similarly, many travel companies have also quickly restarted after a long period of shut down during the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ho Chi Minh City is one of the leading cities that is promoting and linking tourism between provinces and major cities. This is the reason why after tours to green areas in provinces began, businesses started to build many inter-province tours to localities such as Tay Ninh, Long An, Ben Tre, and also Central and Northern regions.

Currently, most of the provinces and cities have relaxed the strict regulations for tourists. Now it is not just domestic tourism that is returning, but international tourism also officially welcomed its first delegations to Quang Nam on 17 and 18 November. Soon after Quang Nam, Phu Quoc also welcomed more than 200 South Korean tourists to experience a four day three night stay at Vinpearl, with an all-inclusive itinerary from air flight to accommodation at the resort, along with entertainment activities.

Khanh Hoa will be the next locality to welcome international tourists after the fourth wave. This is also one locality that will offer many flights to bring tourists from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, from the end of November till the beginning of December this year. The remaining two provinces and cities in the group of five localities on the pilot plan to welcome international visitors in the first phase are Da Nang and Quang Ninh, both of which are also busy preparing to welcome their first visitors.

According to the latest information from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, 1,179 tourists have come to Vietnam under the pilot plan to welcome international visitors. It is expected that by the end of December, the total number of visitors will be more than 15,000. Speaking with Saigon Investment, Mr. Phan Dinh Hue, director of Viet Circle Tourism Company, said that the number of international visitors to Vietnam in this early stage are still very small, and only for promotional purposes, rather than for business value for the company. However, these are positive initial signs that the tourism market is beginning to warm up.

Looking back at 2019, Vietnam has achieved the feat of attracting more than 18 million international visitors, of which Chinese tourists account for about 30%. Unfortunately, now with zero Covid strategy in China, most Chinese visitors will be unable to return. Besides this, the number of self-sufficient visitors have not yet been allowed to enter the country, so current visitors are mainly on tours from nearby regions such as Japan and South Korea. Similar to domestic tourism, companies remain wary and cautious of conducting tours that are not profitable for foreign visitors, and are still hesitant to restart the market.

Adapting to new normal

During the previous three pandemic outbreaks, as soon as the pandemic was under control, travel companies seemed to be able to return immediately with domestic tours, but after the fourth outbreak, everything was different. Companies faced many risks, of which policy and health risks were the main concerns for many businesses.

Currently, although the Government has issued Resolution 128 for safe adaptation, flexibility, and effective control of the Covid-19 pandemic, each locality, even down to each ward, is following different regulations. This is not only difficult for tourists but also makes visitors lose interest. In addition, companies now have to prepare plans to deal with health risks, because no one can guarantee that tourists will not be infected during travel.

There are many challenges ahead, but businesses are being forced to adapt and gradually reopen. For instance, the travel industry must adapt to changes in visitors, thereby bringing more suitable products. Mr. Dang Manh Phuoc, Director of Outbox Consulting, a tourism destination development consulting and research company, said that Outbox Consulting together with Vietnam National Administration of Tourism carried out an overall study on assessing the degree of change in behavior and thinking of domestic tourists traveling under the influence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a result, visitors have seen a lot of changes. Therefore, in coming time, businesses, as well as localities, will also need to change. Mr. Phuoc believes that we cannot serve what we have, but we have to serve what the customer needs, as we have to put the customer first and understand what the customer likes, and worry about what to do to offer the right options.

Enterprises are now choosing to move gradually step by step, learning to adapt to the new situation, and not expecting too much, especially in the fear that the pandemic still has many potential risks. Many businesses are restructuring themselves to better suit the new situation. For example, Vietravel has decided to restructure the entire business ecosystem of the group in the direction towards a leading position in innovation and development by adopting many methods, such as adjusting the operating apparatus, promoting communication, promoting digital transformation to reduce costs, and reaching directly to customers.

At the present time, what businesses are most worried about is the internal competitiveness. This will strongly affect the international tourism sector when we still have to compete with other countries such as Thailand or Singapore, as the rebuilding of tourism personnel does not take just one or two days, but it is a process that takes a long time. In order to go back to the glorious period seen during 2019, it will surely require a strong team effort and coordination to survive the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Bao Sai Gòn Đầu Tư