The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and closure of borders to foreign visitors, as well as domestic travel restrictions, is hitting tourism operators throughout Southeast Asia, including cruise ship operators in spectacular Ha Long Bay in Vietnam.
Main picture Ha Long Bay cruise ship credit Peter Borter on Unsplash
VN Express International is reporting that the operators of over 500 ships are on the verge of bankruptcy as the closure of international borders stretches past 15 months.
Domestic tourism is being allowed now in many areas of Vietnam but operators are only seeing very small numbers of tourists, generally at the weekend.
Operators have had to lay of staff to reduce costs but are still faced with heavy monthly bills with little or no income.
Vu Dinh Linh, the owner of 15 ships, has had to reduce his workforce to just 10% of pre-pandemic levels and now has just 8 employees, mostly security employees looking after the ships. However he still has berthing and maintenance fees as well as interest payments on the fleet.
Operators are finding that they have to offer significant discounts to attract any business but then have additional costs as all crew have to test negative to Covid-19 tests within 7 days of departure.
Operators have requested vaccination doses for their employees which will reduce the need for regular testing and also give potential passengers more confidence in taking the trips. However they have yet to receive a reply to their requests.
Our series the Future of Travel looks at a number of factors affecting the travel and tourism industry including sustainable travel.
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