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90 pct of tourist firms in HCMC suspend operations

90 percent of tourist firms in Ho Chi Minh City have suspended operations due to the new coronavirus pandemic slashing revenues.
An estimated 20,000 tourism employees, or 70 percent of the total, will remain off work without pay until the disease is contained.

Foreign tourist arrivals in the first quarter fell 42 percent year-on-year to 1.3 million, while related revenues fell 26 percent to VND25.6 trillion ($1.1 billion), the lowest since 2016.

Revenues started falling in February and became severe in March when it fell 71 percent year-on-year to VND2.2 trillion ($94.83 million).

Hospitality businesses also suffer. A survey of 25 premium hotels and resorts show first quarter revenues fell 58 percent year-on-year.

The drop came as Vietnam limits travel to curb the spreading new coronavirus. All restaurants and tourist destinations in HCMC have been shut since the end of last month.

HCMC Tourism Department has proposed tax breaks and a delayed tax payment deadline to support businesses.

Deputy Director Vo Thi Ngoc Thuy said the department would deploy a new promotion strategy as soon as the pandemic is controlled to revive the industry.

HCMC welcomed 8.6 million international tourists last year, up 13.5 percent. Tourism revenues rose 10 percent to over VND140 trillion ($6 billion).