with data from the HCMC Statistics Office indicating that the city saw a revenue of a mere VND55 billion in May from travel services.

Foreign tourists are seen in downtown HCMC. Despite HCMC being considered the country's tourist hub, its tourism industry reported losses of trillions of Vietnamese dong due to the coronavirus pandemic – PHOTO: DAO LOAN

The catering and lodging services segment, too, faced a similar fate, earning some VND3.3 trillion in May, down by 63% year-on-year.

A host of tour operators and hotels shut shop, while others faced financial difficulties in operating their businesses despite the launch of various programs and activities in early May.

Firms active in the tourism sector are facing multiple challenges as fewer local tourists are buying tours and the country's doors are shut for international visitors, said Nguyen Ngoc An, deputy general director of Fiditour Company.

An increasing number of small hotels too have informed of their transfer and sale.

“We have shut down part of our hotel. As of June, the hotel’s backup fund has also started to run out, while the revenue has yet to increase," said a representative of a hotel in the city.

According to the HCMC Department of Tourism, no international traveler visited the city in May. Between January and May, the city welcomed a total of 1.3 million international tourists, plunging by 63.2% year-on-year.

Given the difficulties, the city’s tourism industry is now seeking to stimulate the domestic tourism market. A conference to introduce a program titled “HCMC – A safe destination” is to kick off on June 9, with a variety of promotion and discount packages on offer.

However, many firms said that the city will find it harder than other localities to attract domestic visitors as it does not have the advantage of landscapes and beaches.

Nguyen Huu Y Yen, general director of Saigontourist, said that the focus should be on young people and high-income families in localities across the country as well as residents of HCMC.

Activities such as staying at four- or five-star hotels, shopping, exploring the city at night or visiting bars and clubs should be promoted among young people.

Families can be lured with discounted entry tickets to recreational sites such as the Saigon Zoo, Suoi Tien and Dam Sen.

Apart from this, staycations can be endorsed among families living in HCMC, wherein they are offered discounts on stays at five-star hotels so they can relax.

An from Fiditour Company agreed that promoting staycations was a good idea to get the domestic tourism sector back on track. SGT

Dao Loan

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