The second outbreak in July was a disastrous blow to the tourism industry and businesses in Vietnam, which still suffered heavy losses from the first outbreak, making the future of its tourism industry darker than ever. Therefore, what should we do to quickly adapt to this new situation?

1. Do not expect too much in the domestic market 

According to the research on travel trends of Vietnamese travelers post Covid-19 (Outbox Consulting, May 2020), the peak tourist season in Vietnam this year will focus mainly on July and August. In fact, the Vietnam tourism industry showed very positive signs of recovery in the domestic market in July with a significant increase in the number of domestic tourists coming to the localities.

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However, the resurgence of Covid-19 quickly caused negative consequences. Unfortunately, we are already past the peak domestic tourist season. Although research on travel trends of Vietnamese travelers also shows that there is still a remarkable growth in the domestic tourism market in October this year, the tourism industry will be very difficult to breakthrough as in July under the new impacts of the recurrence.

The localities which report no case are also negatively affected right after the pandemic reoccurred. The stimulus packages were frozen almost immediately as the number of tour cancellations increased dramatically. In addition, with the impact of the pandemic on the economy, people are likely to tighten their expenses in the last months of the year to prioritize long-term financial plans in 2021, and in the year-end shopping season and Lunar New Year.

Therefore, if we expect too much of the possibility of another high season in the rest of 2020 and continue to implement stimulus policies like before, it will be difficult to guarantee results or even pose negative impacts on the domestic tourism industry, which is very depleted at the moment.

2. How will the tourism market change? 

Domestic travelers will still be traveling in the rest of the year as soon as the pandemic is under control. However, these tours are more likely to be on small scales with close destinations within the region, and short weekend trips by private vehicles to the beach or nature continuing to be an important trend in the coming period. Vietnamese travelers will also prioritize choosing destinations, travel products that are safe and hygienic. The price and rebooking flexibility will also be particularly interesting to Vietnamese travelers at the moment.

In addition to the individual and family market, travel businesses may keep their expectations on the incentives market for the rest of 2020. However, to ensure safety as well as keep with the current financial situation, this market may also require cutbacks in activities and crowded events, arranging to distance passengers, or may require changing destinations and safety assurance during the trip.

With the obvious changes of Vietnamese travelers in all segments in the coming period, what should we do to overcome the present challenges? 

3. Prioritize adapting solutions to survive 

First of all, with the domestic market difficult to explode in the coming months, solutions to stimulate demand through mass discount programs are unlikely to deliver the desired effect as the market spending is not as high as it used to be and the time we have left in 2020 is not much.

The industry needs to clearly define its goals in the coming months to ensure brand retention, set the foundation for next year's rebound and avoid risky mass strategies. Ensuring efforts to maintain revenue-generating operations with minimal operating costs for the remaining months should be the top priority.

Therefore, instead of trying to cut marginal profits to launch large-scale stimulus packages, businesses can consider focusing on some of their strong markets, exploiting opportunities from loyal customers, implementing stimulus programs at appropriate levels along with operating cost reduction to minimize risks.

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The tourism industry and businesses also need to quickly adapt to the new situation in order to respond to changes in the travel trends of the domestic market. The products associated with staycations are considered as the optimal solutions in the current context; however, they have yet to be paid enough attention by local tourism authorities to offer visitors suitable and attractive products. Personalized, flexible or advanced-scheduled packages to nearby locations where tourists can use their personal vehicles should also be promoted.

The management offices also need to implement specific and speedy measures to support businesses, carefully consider the implementation plan and the size of the stimulus packages in the near future to adjust to the actual market or demands. The tourism stimulus programs of our country in recent years mainly stop at the reduction of entrance tickets and discount programs from the participating enterprises without many direct stimulus packages to the travelers.

With the limited financial capacity of most tourism businesses, continuing to reduce prices to stimulate demand will be difficult to increase purchasing power from the market, even causing long-term negative consequences for the business itself. Therefore, the authorities should consider a stimulus package for direct consumption to tourists from the government to create a better stimulus effect.

In addition, the government also needs to have financial and technical support packages for tourism businesses and workers so that the tourism industry can survive and maintain their brands in the market. Tax exemption or reduction policies, financial loan packages or technical assistance such as media support, support for new product development, or support for market research information will all be essential in the current context.

A thorough label that recognizes safety for all tourism businesses and attractions should be issued and managed by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism so that businesses can demonstrate its ability to ensure safety to visitors.

4. Prepare for the future from now 

The crisis will eventually be controlled and world tourism will definitely recover. In addition to overcoming the current challenges, how will we resume the international tourism market and prepare for a competition to attract international visitors with the following destinations and other Asian countries when the pandemic ends?

International tourism plays a particularly and indispensably important role in the overall picture of Vietnam tourism. Vietnam tourism industry will not be able to survive for a long time if it only depends on the domestic market. Responding to the needs of cross-border travel while guaranteeing safety measures from each country becomes the most urgent task.

All important international markets for Vietnam tourism are countries with more severe damage by Covid-19 than ours. As a result, there will be a lot of changes in the behavioral trends of these markets compared to what we have already known. In order to become their first choice of destination post-COVID-19, we need more thoughtful, methodical and professional preparation from now on.

While Vietnam's tourism industry is still struggling at present, neighboring countries such as Korea, Japan, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia have started implementing specific promotion plans to prepare for international arrivals in the future, some even have welcomed international visitors back with their special products.

Conclusion 

With a rat-race competitiveness from countries in the region for both international and domestic markets in the future ahead, there is no other way but to be prepared and ready now, building ourselves a viable solution so that Vietnam tourism will not be left behind.

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