LONDON/HANOI – Laura Douglas’ tourism start-up, a farm surrounded by snow-tipped mountains in southern New Zealand, was attracting hundreds of mostly foreign visitors a month until the coronavirus pandemic brought it to a sudden halt in March.
“It’s like I’ve been mourning the loss of my business,” Douglas, 33, said in a phone interview with Reuters, adding she had to take on a second job as a vet to pay the bills during a strict lockdown that included sealing the country’s borders.
The rebound for New Zealanders who are reliant on tourism is expected to be slow, in marked contrast to how the tourism sector is faring in Vietnam, another nation that was hailed as a success story in Asia for containing the coronavirus.
Both countries have emerged from social distancing virtually virus-free, lifting all restrictions except those on international travel.
While New Zealand’s tourism sector is struggling pending arrivals from abroad, Vietnam’s has rebounded, according to travel data and industry members.
This is thanks to how much domestic tourism has filled the gap, reflecting in part how badly the coronavirus hit the two economies.
While New Zealand’s economy is expected to contract by as much as 20 percent in the first half of the year, according to the central bank, Vietnam has kept its yearly growth target above five percent.
July is normally peak travel season in New Zealand but scheduled flights are down 40 percent compared to the same month last year and even many of those are being canceled, according to figures from travel analytics firm Cirium.
|Junk boats transporting Vietnamese tourists are seen at Ha Long Bay after the Vietnamese government eased the social distancing following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam, May 19, 2020. Photo: Reuters|
Weekly demand for Airbnb and Vrbo properties through July are down 55 percent from last year and a recovery is unlikely until later this year, according to forward-looking bookings from AirDNA.
Across the ocean in Vietnam, the story is very different. In July, more than 26,000 flights are expected to transport five million people, increases of 16 percent and 24 percent from last year.
Nguyen Thi Thuy Anh, owner of a travel agency called Minh Viet Booking, says he is handling a surge in bookings as businesses slash prices to attract local travelers.
“Many people who couldn’t afford five-star services before are taking advantage of the programs to experience the services,” he said, referring to central and provincial government efforts to boost mass domestic tourism.
In a country with poor rail and road infrastructure, air travel is already a popular mode of transport, and even more so now, with airlines adding routes and offering tickets for as low as VND69,000 (US$3).
A Reuters analysis of flight data from FlightRadar24 shows that Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, along with Phu Quoc Island and Cam Ranh Bay — both tourist hotspots — were top destinations through mid-June after social distancing was lifted in late April.
|Views from a beachside restaurant are seen at the Mango Bay resort in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam, June 16, 2020. Photo: Reuters|
Weekend road trips
In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is asking people to “experience your own backyard”.
She is urging employers to consider four-day work weeks and has said the government is actively considering more public holidays this year so people can travel.
On Friday, Ardern is launching the country’s ski season in the tourist destination of Queenstown, hoping that will give another boost to domestic travel.
Some New Zealanders appear to be heeding her encouragement and taking weekend road trips.
Demand for hotels and short-term rentals, while depressed overall, still ticks up over the weekends according to STR, an analytics firm that looks specifically at the hotel industry.
But tourism business owners say a pot of NZ$400 million (US$257 million) set aside by the government to subsidize wages and other costs for the industry will not be enough to tide it over while foreign tourists are still barred.
|Views from a beachside restaurant are seen at the Mango Bay resort in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam, June 13, 2020. Photo: Reuters|
Foreigners account for around half the NZ$16.1 billion (US$10.34 billion) that tourism contributes to GDP in New Zealand, a hole economist Peter Clough says will be difficult to plug with just domestic travelers.
“Whatever we do, we’re not going to fill that hole just by drumming up domestic travel or the Trans-Tasman bubble,” he said, referring to a proposal that was touted last month to allow movement between Australia and New Zealand.
For Douglas, the downturn means digging deep in her own pockets and pivoting as much as possible to attract local travel to her 15,000-hectare (37,000-acre) farm.
“The farming mentality is that you’re not always going to have good seasons,” she said.
“Right now, Kiwis are going to be the best gift for us and I’m hoping they will come with their gumboots on.”
- Vietnam, New Zealand to maintain close link amid Covid-19 pandemic
- Behind New Zealand's clean, green image is a dirty reality
- "Wrong": New Zealand leader slams Trump, says country's nine new COVID cases "doesn't compare" to America's 42,000
- New Zealand Moves Within One Win of the America’s Cup
- New Zealand Beat the Virus Once. Can It Do It Again?
- Eight hospitals and healthcare centres gifted New Zealand fruit boxes during pandemic
- New Zealand's Ardern told to 'wind neck in' after threat to block UK from major trade pact
- New Zealander escapes from isolated area in Vietnam's Nha Trang
- New Zealand Embassy presents fresh fruits to medical units in HCMC
- New Zealand panic as children fall ill in high numbers - experts warn of 'immunity debt'
- Brexit superwoman Liz Truss says New Zealand deal will unlock door to £9trillion in trade
- After 102 COVID-free days, New Zealand detects 4 new cases, reimposes lockdown restrictions
- ASEAN-New Zealand Joint Cooperation Committee holds 9th meeting
- New Zealand, where Covid-19 is dormant, fights another respiratory virus, and other news from around the world.
- Britain urged to form new ‘CANZUK’ alliance with Australia, Canada and New Zealand
- Trump's envoy to New Zealand under fire for avoiding COVID-19 quarantine
- U.S. hits 5 million COVID-19 cases as New Zealand marks 100 days without
- India's T20I Series Against South Africa Cancelled; Two Tests Versus New Zealand Could be Shifted: Report
- New Zealand and Luna Rossa Each Score a Win on First Day of America’s Cup
- Covid-19: Pregnant New Zealander stranded in Sydney able to return home
With coronavirus under control, Vietnam and New Zealand see different travel trends have 1064 words, post on tuoitrenews.vn at June 26, 2020. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.