The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected tourism activities in Can Tho. More specifically, Phong Dien only received around 448,000 visitors (from January to mid-May 2020), down 78% compared to the same period last year; the number of foreign visitors has decreased by almost 100%, especially in the 3 months of the fight against COVID-19. The total revenue from tourism reached more than 142 billion VND, down 61.5% over the same period in 2019.
When the COVID-19 pandemic was gradually brought under control, under the direction of the People’s Committee of the city, the tourist sites of Can Tho also resumed their activities. In particular, Phong Dien is one of the places where tourist activities recuperate the earliest, since the beginning of May. A series of sites such as the tourist village of My Khanh, the Mekong Rustic, the tourist area of Lung Cot Cau, the orchard of Ba Hiep, the tourist area of Lung Tram ... are gradually reopened to customers. Mr. Vo Thanh Giup, Director of the Center for Promotion of Trade and Tourism and Management of Historic Monuments (PCT & GMT) of Phong Dien District, said: “Tourist sites and gardens are active in the prevention and control of the pandemic, ensure hygiene in service and accommodation areas, thus creating security for visitors. The sites are also preparing new products and services, including stimulus packages for tourists. ”
Mr. Pham Minh Sang, deputy director of My Khanh Tourist Village, said: “During the period of suspension, we have renovated the landscape and services, designed new products so that visitors will have new experiences when they return.” As a result, the Tourist Village of My Khanh currently has more than 20 services that focus on promoting the development of orchards. The gardens have been enlarged by around ten hectares, or almost 50% of the tourist area, for specialty fruits from Phong Dien: rambutan, longan, Burmese grapes, durian ... This village also has a promotional program for 99,000 VND/person, including entrance ticket, electric car (or train, depending on the situation), garden visit, picking, and consumption of fruit (10 kinds of fruits to discover). Mr. Pham Minh Sang said: “This is a new program appreciated by customers because Phong Dien is in full fruit season. We also have other promotions with folk games, lunch, etc.”
With more than 8,500 hectares of orchards, Phong Dien is known for its many delicious fruits: Ha Chau Burmese grape, star apple, durian with a yellow flesh and flat seed, sweet orange, mangosteen, longan, rambutan, etc. Summer is also the time of fruit harvesting in Phong Dien. Therefore, the revival of domestic tourism at this time is quite appropriate, especially the tours in the Southwest region. According to information at tourist sites, 70 to 80% of customers in the North visit orchards. Phong Dien has many perennial gardens with delicious specialty fruits. According to Mr. Nguyen Pham Hoang Viet, director of Lung Cot Cau tourist site, the number of visitors has gradually increased, although the establishment has only been resuming activities for about 2 weeks. The estimated number of visitors is around 500 to 600/day, more numerous during the weekend. Mr. Nguyen Pham Hoang Viet said: “After the implementation of social distancing, tourists want to relax. This is good, Phong Dien is in the full fruit season meeting the short-term relaxation needs of many families. To prepare for the resumption of activities, we refreshed the landscape, created a new menu, including the seasonal fruit dishes. A special discount of 10% on the total bill is offered when customers take on-site catering services. ”
In fact, at this time, the tourist sites and gardens of Phong Dien only welcomed individual visitors, families, or groups of friends. The number of tourists has changed but is still quite modest. Mr. Tran Van Lien, the owner of the Mekong Rustic and Vam Xang Orchard, said: “Compared to the same period last year, the number of visitors is only around 30%, mainly local and individual customers. We ensure the quality of services to welcome visitors upon their return. Currently, we only welcome domestic visitors for orchard tours as homestay is still suspended. However, we have a 30% discount program for customers who book in advance”. Mr. Vo Thanh Giup, Director of the Center for Promotion of Trade and Tourism and Management of Historic Monuments of Phong Dien District, said: “Although there has been good preparation for services and promotion, the number of tourists is still quite low compared to the same period last year. Due to the regulations, we cannot yet welcome international visitors while the majority of homestay accommodation is intended for foreign tourists, so some "homestay" have not yet opened to welcome tourists again.”
According to those responsible for tourist sites in Phong Dien, the number of visitors is decreasing, which is only a fifth or 20-30% compared to the same period last year. However, compared to other localities, this number represents a signal positive, saying that visitors are interested in coming back. Mr. Nguyen Pham Hoang Viet, director of Lung Cot Cau tourist site, said: “Many former clients have returned. As soon as we resumed activities they returned.” Sharing the same opinion, Mr. Tran Van Lien also said: “People come back several times because they like gardens and rural green space. Currently only having individual visitors, travel agencies have started to work together and we are also preparing to welcome groups of visitors again.” Mr. Pham Minh Sang, deputy director of My Khanh Tourist Village, said: “Travel agencies have tested new products and services and have teamed up to bring visitors back to the tourist sites. This is a positive signal for the revival of tourism in Phong Dien in particular and in Can Tho in general.”
To date, most tourist sites in Phong Dien are operating again, actively designing new products and services; while ensuring measures to prevent and control the pandemic, for the safety of tourists. Although the rate of visitors is slowly increasing, it is the first sign of a recovery in local tourism.
Source: Can Tho Newspapers - Translated by Hoang Dat