Sun Group president warns of severe tourism crisis as coronavirus spreads

By Ha Linh - Mar 02, 2020 | 03:21 PM GMT+7

TheLEADERAs the Covid-19 epidemic is taking heavy toll on the global economy, Sun Group chairman Dang Minh Truong talks about the company’s losses and recommends various measures to restore the tourism industry.

Sun Group president warns of severe tourism crisis as coronavirus spreads
Sun Group chairman Dang Minh Truong

Being a large corporation in the tourism industry, Sun Group is vulnerable to the severe impacts from the Covid-19 epidemic, isn’t it?

Dang Minh Truong: Not only Vietnam but also the global tourism industry has been hit hard by the unpredictable development of Covid-19 epidemic. Sun Group is not an exception.

The number of visitors in our Sun World complexes has plummeted sharply over the last two months. Sun World Fansipan Legend has seen a drop of 70 per cent, Sun World Ba Na Hills 65 per cent and Sun World Halong Complex up to 85 per cent.

However, some of our tourist destinations in Phu Quoc island and Tay Ninh province where the climate is sunny all year round, are still attracting visitors. Domestic and international travellers feel secured here because the climate at these locations is not conducive to the disease spreading. At the same time, Vietnam’s efforts to control the disease are considered one of the best in the world, and we have carried out strictly and comprehensively disease precaution measures in our hotels and tourist destinations. All these make visitors feel safe and enjoy their trips.

In specific, how the disease precaution has been implemented in Sun Group’s properties?

Dang Minh Truong: Immediately after the first information on Covid-19 was released, Sun Group has taken the initiative in carrying out many measures aggressively and comprehensively at our construction works, entertainment complexes, hotels, resorts and international airport with the aim to create a safe and attractive environment for visitors at time of the disease outbreak.

At Sun World entertainment complexes nationwide, we have announced by speakers and installed notification stickers to show detailed and practical guidance following the Ministry of Health’s recommendations. All cabins in the cable car systems and all tourist areas are regularly disinfected. We have given tourists face masks for free and placed thousands of bottles of disinfectant solution in public locations, toilets and service areas.

In the Van Don international airport, we have implemented an international standard process of picking up and dropping off visitors. This process is set up for Van Don itself and has never been applied to any Vietnamese airport.

We can assert that together with measures to control the disease implemented well by the Vietnamese government and Covid-19 precautions applied by Sun Group, all tourist destinations developed and managed by Sun Group are safe for every visitor.

Can you anticipate different scenarios that may happen to the Vietnam’s tourism industry under the impacts of Covid-19 epidemic?

Dang Minh Truong: So far, the development of Covid-19 is still unpredictable and if this situation sustains, not only tourism companies, including Sun Group, have to face a big challenge but Vietnam’s tourism industry will also face a serious crisis that will likely take a long time to recover.

In my opinion, there will two scenarios for the tourism industry in the coming time.

The first period is called “living with the epidemic”. Although Vietnam is able to control Covid-19 disease well, the risk is still implicit as the disease is still spreading over the world, especially in key tourism markets for Vietnam such as China, Korea and Japan.

The second period is called “recovering in the wake of the epidemic”. In this period, the tourism industry will speed up and boom again sustainably after Vietnam announces that the country is no longer affected by the Covid-19.

In both scenarios, in addition to efforts tourism companies will take to overcome the disease, I think the tourism industry really needs supports from the government to rescue tourism activities.

In specific, what do you suggest the government, as well as competent authorities, should do to revive the hospitality industry?

Dang Minh Truong: The direct and indirect contribution of the tourism sector to the country’s GDP is currently around 9.2 per cent and 18 per cent respectively. The decline of the tourism sector will therefore cause a big loss for the economy.

Over the last few months, besides rigorous disease precautions, the government has taken first measures to rescue the tourism industry such as creating domestic tourism stimulation packages with the message “a safe Vietnam”, preparing for the international tourism stimulation programme in April with the message “VietnamNOW” and establishing an alliance for tourism stimulation with the participation of all tourism stakeholders, such as airlines, hotels, entertainment complexes and travel agencies to create and implement the most attractive and competitive product packages.

However, from the aspect of an enterprise, we see that many practical measures must be carried out immediately to help tourism enterprises, as well as Vietnam’s tourism, come over the crisis.

Specifically, in the period “living with the pandemic”, Sun Group’s recommendation is to quickly develop new tourism products, hasten the licensing process for projects of improving or developing tourism products and new constructions and give priorities to night-economic projects, with the aim to attract more visitors to come and spend.

Sun Group expects the government and localities to go shoulder to shoulder with tourism enterprises during this difficult period. We suggest the government reduce 50 per cent of value added tax and corporate income tax this year, allow for the delay of VAT payment and corporate income tax of 2019.

In the period of “recovering in the wake of the epidemic”, besides the international tourism stimulation programme “VietnamNOW”, we suggest the government implement a separate promotional campaign for the cruise ship market, with an attractive promotion programme. This is a unique potential market with customers focusing mainly on high-end segments from Japan and Western Europe, so it is necessary to give priorities to promoting and expanding this market.

In addition, great tourism events should be organized nationwide such as international fireworks, international carnivals and winter festivals in famous tourist destinations.

We are proud of and appreciate the government’s timely and aggressive efforts to control the disease that makes Vietnam become a highlight in the world in driving back the Covid-19 epidemic.

Another encouraging sign is that the United States Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have decided to remove Vietnam from the list of destinations vulnerable to community transmission of SARS-CoV-2. This is an important foundation for Vietnam to actively implement a comprehensive measure package in stimulating and attracting visitors.

In this context, we hope the government will promote policies and measures soon to support tourism enterprises to come over difficulties and restore tourism activities in the immediate and long term.