Safety map needed for tourism to “coexist with the pandemic”
By Dao Loan
|Tourists in Yen Tu, Quang Ninh Province – PHOTO: DAO LOAN|
HCMC – When the probability for another Covid-19 outbreak is higher than ever, the development of a safety tourism map for tourists and businesses is seen as one of the many factors that can contribute to helping tourism “coexsit with the pandemic.” The Saigon Times interviewed Nguyen Quoc Ky, chairman of Vietravel Holdings, for his take on this matter.
The Saigon Times : Why do you think a safety map is necessary for tourism to “coexist with the pandemic” as the pandemic becomes more unpredictable and complicated?
Nguyen Quoc Ky : Both businesses and tourists have been very confused during the past outbreaks.
Whenever an infection is announced, even if it is one in an isolated area, customers express their extreme concerns as information about the pandemic floods mass media as well as social media and via hearsay. This has eventually led many to believe that the pandemic has spread everywhere.
For example, should an outbreak in Hanoi be announced, most customers would immediately cancel their Hanoi trips for fear of their safety when in reality Hanoi is a big city with many destinations safe enough for travel, but this information gets lost amidst other pandemic-related information.
The reason behind cancellations and service delays during the past outbreaks also stems from this mindset. Thus, with the help of a safety tourism map to alert people about places currently affected by the pandemic and that need to be avoided, areas on high alert and safe destinations to travel to, customers are put at ease, while local authorities can control the spread of false rumors about the pandemic.
With this map, service operators can be offered more assistance. We will no longer be passive and perplexed when forecasting current situations to arrange services. Instead, we will actively know where to take customers and where to restrict business and calculate further plans.
This will also help businesses save expenditure and maintain a steady flow. If services keep getting cancelled after booking or abruptly postponed like in the past, businesses will encounter more difficulties as deposits marinate while short of cash.
With customers assured and businesses actively coordinating their services, tourism can then maintain operations during the pandemic.
Where do businesses get information to plan their responses to an outbreak?
– We have to refer to various sources, including announcements from localities on tourist destinations and other services for tourists.
However, announcments don’t always come at the right time and there have been cases where tourists arrived at the destination only to discover that it was closed.
|Nguyen Quoc Ky, chairman of Vietravel Holdings|
How do you suggest the safety tourism map be developed and what agency should be in charge of this?
– In technical terms, the map can be developed as a website or an app. As for its content, to ensure accuracy and nationwide generality, the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Disease Prevention and Control should be in charge of updating information on the pandemic along with relevant warnings.
The committee can also authorize a relevant government agency such as the Ministry of Health to update information. The Ministry is currently updating information on newly confirmed cases twice a day. People can also refer to this when developing the map.
The safety tourism map can be envisioned as a forest fire risk map created by forest rangers. Tourists will be able to look at every destination and see areas highlighted in red that need to be avoided, areas with moderate risks and those highlighted in green that are safe for travel.
The most important thing is that the information needs to be constantly updated. With the assistance of high technology, provinces everywhere can inform tourists about the current state of province A, which service is open in province B, which service is closed, which area is adopting social-distancing measures, areas that require tourists to wear masks… This is very important and helpful.
I believe that if the safety tourism map succeeds, it can be an important information channel for tourists not only during the pandemic, but also in the future, when markets reopen. Foreign tourists can access the map for information in case of an incident when traveling to Vietnam.
Moreover, this map can further develop other utilities such as informing about tourist density to relieve mass congestion at tourist destinations during the peak travel season. For example, if there was information on the maximum capacity of tourist destinations and tourism services in Dalat during the past holiday season along with the local authorities’ recommendations, many would change their direction to avoid the congestion, alleviating pressure on tourist destinations.