Most Workers in Tourism on Unpaid Leaves in Ho Chi Minh City

financial help, covid-19, Vietnam

The information is worrying and contradicts claims by the Vietnamese government to offer financial support to the workers of the tourism sector. VNA (Vietnam news Agency) indicated that nearly 90% of all employees have been asked to take unpaid leave from hotels and travel agencies. 

Less than 10 people. According to Deputy Director of Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, less than 10 is the number of tour guides in the city that managed to get financial support from the Government’s social security package of  VND62 trillion (US$2.66 billion) which is supposed to be disimbursed for people directly affected by the covid-19 pandemic. However, there are 5,864 licensed tour guides in the city, including 3,544 who speak foreign languages.

The government’s relief and credit packages are now vital to help Ho Chi Minh City’s travel companies survive the coronavirus crisis, Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa explained.

The domestic tourism sector, which had only recently started to recover, has suffered another setback with the return of coronavirus, the Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Tourism said.

Around 70 percent of travel firms resumed operations in May thinking the COVID-19 pandemic was under control, explained Hoa.

The domestic travel market had started to recover with a city tourism stimulus programme that runs from June until the end of the year.

But then more than 35,000 bookings for tour packages, free and easy tours, hotels, air tickets, and travel services were cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, resulting in a loss of revenues of 21 billion VND (906,000 USD), according to a report by the department.

Nearly 90 percent of travel agencies in the city have temporarily shut doors with most of their staff being told to go on unpaid leave, according to the report.

Around 90 percent of staff at three- to five-star hotels have been told to take unpaid leave or laid off. At others hotels, the rate is more than 80 percent.

Hoa said the current economic uncertainty makes the Government’s relief packages imperative for travel companies to survive.

But most find it extremely difficult to borrow under the programmes from banks or benefit from tax breaks, she admitted. A story which seems to repeat itself in most countries around Southeast Asia. The economic crisis consequent of covid-19 will increasingly claim more victims than the virus itself…