Tourist boats lying idle
About 500 tourists boats in Ha Long Bay are still lying idle despite being allowed to resume operation due to the lack of visitors. There have been only three trips so far despite various discounts programmes held by Quang Ninh People’s Committee.
The residents are already familiar with all the sightseeing spots and will not use their services while there were currently no visitors from other cities and provinces. Moreover, operational costs are high and the crew are reluctant to return to work for fear of another outbreak.
Many owners have put their boats up for sale while others struggling to maintain the boats.
Tran Van Hong, vice head of Ha Long Cruise Boat Association, said, “The biggest problem for firms is finance. They mostly borrow from banks and they already sold everything they can to repay debts and interest. There’s nothing left now.”
Hong asked Quang Ninh People’s Committee, the State Bank of Vietnam and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh to restructure all loans during the pandemic as it’s unclear when the tourism industry could recover from the pandemic. Firms also hoped that the government would have support policies for firms to take working capital loans and short-term loans that cover a company’s short-term operational needs.
As of now, the State Bank of Vietnam in Quang Ninh has extended deadlines and provided VND50trn (USD2.1bn) loans to nearly 13,000 customers affected by Covid-19. The bank has restructured debts worth VND4trn for 1,000 firms and waived VND47bn in interest for 2,390 firms. 22 commercial banks in Quang Ninh have provided loans worth VND1.8trn to 240 boat owners in Ha Long.
However, because of the ongoing outbreak in various provinces and cities in Vietnam, support policies from the government are still needed.
Nguyen Van Doan, deputy director of the State Bank of Vietnam-Quang Ninh Branch, said, “The government should have long-term and synchronised plans instead of a solution for one industry to boost the province’s economy.”