Vietnam’s Foreign Visitors Went Down 38%

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As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage all over the world, different nations are taking stock of their losses and making plans to deal with the challenges posed by the virus outbreak. 

In the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Vietnam adopted similar measures with other countries of the world as it closed its borders and suspended international flights.

Between January and April 2020, the country experienced a 38% drop in Vietnam’s foreign visitors due to the pandemic, bringing the number of foreign visitors received to 3.7 million. Of all foreign arrivals, Asians made up 72.7%

In the past 4 months, the tourism industry earned a total of VND7.9 trillion, an equivalent of $337 million, a drop by 45% year-on-year. 

Vietnam suspended international flights on March 25th to prevent the importation of the virus, three days after the country banned the entry of foreigners.

With foreigners and tourists unable to enter into the country, the tourism industry has turned its focus towards domestic tourism in a bid to boost funds from that area as social distancing rules saw ease on April 22nd.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc declared the ease of social distancing restrictions on April 22nd as he declared that only some districts in Hanoi, Bac Ninh and Ha Giang in northern Vietnam were high-risk areas while every other city and province in the country was relatively safe.

Reacting to the ease, tourism industry experts assume that the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on Vietnam’s tourism sector will span till the end of 2020. Also, experts expressed that tourism companies should target domestic tourism as it would recover first. The reason for this advice is the assumption that locals don’t plan to travel far yet, due to fears surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. 

As focus turns towards domestic tourism, Vietnam’s Transport Ministry has approved the proposal by the Civil Aviation Administration to increase the frequency of domestic flights to meet up to higher demands.

Projections have been made that frequency of flights on the Hanoi- HCMC route will increase to 36 flights per day between 1st and 15th May, while return flights from HCMC and Hanoi to Da Nang could be up to 12. 

If this materializes, numbers can get as high as 53 and 20 return flights daily as of 16th May. 

In line with the ease of movement and social distancing, popular tourist destinations like Phu Quoc, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Da Nang, and Quy Nhon have opened up to tourists. 

The Imperial Citadel, a popular destination for tourists has also opened up after a long time, while a new holiday destination ‘LySon Island has opened up in the central province of Quang Ngai. 

Of all 270 Coronavirus cases confirmed in Vietnam, 219 people have been treated and discharged while 51 cases, including patients who suffered relapses, are still being treated.

With no new positive cases by the end of last week, it is now 8 days without any new Covid 19 cases and over 2 weeks without any case of community transmission. 

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The Aeronautics Sector Relies on Airlines Which Expect Recession

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The Covid-19 crisis has brought the growth of the aeronautics sector to a halt. Between the financial difficulties of the airlines and questions about the recovery of international tourism, manufacturers and equipment suppliers are going to have to face what is one of the biggest challenges in their history.  A situation so out of the ordinary that establishing stock market scenarios is becoming a real challenge.

What is obvious, however, is the scale and severity of the phenomenon. The industry is going through one of the most severe crises in 20 years, and we are only at the beginning. It is a much deeper crisis with a much stronger impact than the one we experienced after September 11, 2001.

Indeed, in a context where airlines are the main contractors for the aeronautics sector and now find themselves at a standstill, order books are practically non-existent. The industry has had to adapt quickly and considerably reduce its wingspan. Aircraft assembly plants are virtually at a standstill. Airlines find themselves in virtual bankruptcy and many are relying on those that can qualify for government aids.

Uncertainty about the Resumption of Traffic

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents 290 airlines accounting for 82% of world air traffic, in early April the number of flights worldwide collapsed by 80% compared to the same period in 2019.

In addition, many studies show that recovery will be slow. The sluggishness will affect the enthusiasm of travelers. The fear of the second wave of Covid-19 contamination will also have an impact. According to IATA, 40% of travelers will wait at least six months before taking the plane again. The BCG cabinet, on its side, is counting on a return to normal air traffic which would not take place before the end of the year.

Airlines, on their side, will also potentially be forced to respect social distancing rules, which would require a relatively low aircraft load factor. Moreover, the scenario of a recession raises fears of an even greater impact.

In turn, the uncertainty generated by this crisis will weigh on orders for new aircraft. A study by Archery Strategy Consulting published in early April notes that demand for new aircraft is expected to fall by 40 to 60% over the next five years. Experts expect demand for new aircraft to fall by at least 20%.

THE FUTURE OF THE AERONAUTICS SECTOR LOOKS BLEAK

Airbus Better Armed than Boeing

The world’s two major aircraft manufacturers, Airbus and Boeing, do not have the same assets to recover from this crisis. The two are not entering the crisis with the same weapons. It can be assumed that Airbus will recover more easily than its competitor. It should be remembered that Boeing already had problems before the crisis in the single-aisle segment with its 737 MAX. In January, Boeing had indicated that the costs related to the flight ban imposed on its 737 MAX were expected to exceed $18 billion.

Moreover, in a context where single-aisle aircraft are expected to account for the majority of the fleet (60% in 2019), Airbus has a clear advantage (55% market share for Airbus vs. 40% for Boeing in the single-aisle segment). This is due to its portfolio of much better-calibrated products such as the A 220 and especially the A 321 XLR, which is better suited to the demand for medium-sized aircraft from airlines, which are moving away from large aircraft.

The Sector Supported by Military Orders?

Moreover, it should be noted that the shutdown of the civil aviation segment caused by the cessation of airline activity has not signed the shutdown of the defense side of the aeronautics sector.

Recently, Airbus Executive Chairman Guillaume Faury hinted, in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, that the European states might well support the group’s activity by placing new orders for the defense equipment. This had an immediate positive effect on the share price on the stock market.

But it is hard to think that, in a context where public spending is already out of control, European countries will be able to completely counterbalance the decline in civilian demand.

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In-flight Magazines Will Come Back in Digital Form

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Among the collateral damage that the coronavirus pandemic is having in the aviation industry are in-flight magazines. As airlines cut flights in late March, several companies removed the magazines for health reasons. Now it does not seem that they will return anytime soon.

In the U.S., four of the top five airlines removed their in-flight magazines from the aircrafts. The main reason was the health risk they posed. A recent Canadian study revealed that seat pockets are extremely dirty, with a high aerobic count, mould, coliforms, and E.coli found on various samples. Having to disinfect each copy of the magazine from such a seat pocket takes time and money that companies are not willing to spend.

When looking at the number of copies of these publications, one can see the airlines’ reasoning behind it. Delta Air Lines’ Sky magazine, edited by MSP Communications, had five million monthly readers. The March issue was removed in the closing weeks of April and only issued online.

In the case of Southwest: the Magazine of Southwest Airlines, the last issue was that of March, and the following issues have been suspended with no publishing date. This magazine is read by more than 6 million travelers every month.

Alaska Beyond magazine from Alaska Airlines canceled the April and May issues, putting a halt to 4.4 million monthly copies.

Ink Global, the publisher of American Airlines magazines such as American Way, Nexos, and Celebrated Living, said they distributed the magazine in April as any other month, but the May issue won’t be published. However, they are already working on the June edition while waiting for flights to resume. These three publications add up to 15 million copies every month.

Aeroméxico also decided to remove its Aire and Accent in-flight magazines to speed up the cleaning and disinfection process.

In Australia, Qantas issued in-flights magazines as usual, but they did email digital versions to frequent flyers.

As for Qatar Airways, it removed all its magazines from the duty-free catalog found on board.

When asked about the issues, Delta Air and Southwest did not confirm whether the magazines would return once flights are back to normal.

These publications face several problems. On the one hand, the considerable drop in advertising revenue from tourist agencies, luxury brands, hotels and car manufacturers, which are the most common advertisers. On the other, the health measures that airlines will take to avoid a new spread of the virus remain unknown. Among body temperature checks when boarding and the possibility of having empty middle seats, there is also the option of not handing out printable versions but offering the issues online.

CORONAVIRUS SWEEPS OVER IN-FLIGHT MAGAZINES

Michael Keating, chief executive of Ink, which publishes over 30 titles for airlines worldwide including Singapore Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, United Airlines and American Airlines, admitted that some magazines will stop issuing new editions in the coming months, but they don’t suggest that magazines will no longer be printed.

At most, issues can be turned from monthly to bimonthly. “When passengers are traveling less, we continue to communicate with them digitally,” he said.

The digital option has been offered by airlines for years. It allows them to reduce publication costs, but it is also a significant reduction of onboard weight, without considering the positive environmental effect. For example, on the official site of Iberia or through the app of the Spanish airline, passengers can read up to 7,000 titles free of charge, both in flight and while waiting to board.

According to research by Boeing, removing the weight of print newspapers and magazines equates to an annual savings of over US$4.5 million for a fleet of wide-body aircraft operating 1,000 flights per day.

Thanks to the lesser number of printed copies and the replacement of flight tickets for digital ones, paper consumption will be reduced by 640 tons per year, which translates into less flight weight and, therefore, less fuel consumption, which means 200 tons less CO2 a year, explains environment experts.

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Madeira to Attract Travelers with Health Security Certificate

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The Madeira Autonomous Region Promotion Association (APM) has launched a certification of good practices to manage biological risks. The novelty, the health security certificate, will be available to member companies and the aim is to strengthen the travelers’ confidence. The idea is part of the mission to strengthen health security, for tourism to grow again after the pandemic.

“The implementation of measures that provide comfort to travelers is fundamental to restore collective well-being. We believe this joint commitment will help tourism grow again,” says Eduardo Jesus, regional secretary of tourism and culture and president of APM.

Nuno Vale, executive director of APM, says the health security certificate increases the competitiveness of members, guaranteeing all safety and health conditions. “An international, accredited and independent certification is essential for all players in the tourism sector and will be a qualitative differential, besides an obligation for those who want to have tourism business in the future,” he evaluates.

Besides the certificate, a webinar is scheduled for May, where the measure and the certification process for companies will be presented. In June, the certification manual will be launched and in July the certifications will begin to be issued.

The goal is to certify up to 160 companies per month, including hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, rental companies, among other official tourist establishments.

APM will also give its members the necessary conditions to join the certification process, which will be done with SGS quality assurance.

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Airbnb Introduces New Hygienic Protocol

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The temporary rental platform has always struggled with the way the hosts decide how and when they clean their houses. Therefore, Airbnb now opted to establish a hygienic protocol and even a certification to secure clean accommodation.

In response to the crisis in the tourism industry and the traveler insecurity caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the rental platform announced a new cleaning protocol to guide the hosts.

Named the “Advanced Cleaning Initiative”, the document was developed with the help of a doctor, based on the recommendations of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The hygienic protocol includes several instructions for homeowners on how to clean and disinfect each room in the house, specific information about COVID-19, and disinfectants certified by health authorities.

Airbnb has decided that hosts who follow the new recommendations will receive a special certificate so that they can be easily identified by people seeking housing.

The platform also established a mandatory minimum interval between each rental. Those who comply with the new cleaning protocol must guarantee a period of 24 hours between the check-out of one traveler and the check-in of the next. Those who do not comply with all hygienic steps will be obliged to wait 72 hours before receiving a new guest.

This break is based on recommendations from experts applied in another Airbnb program, which has already offered more than 200.000 stays to health professionals who are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 in countries such as Germany, Spain and Italy.

The program is to be launched in May in the United States. Only after that, it will be implemented in other destinations.

The new hygienic protocol is an effort of the company to reassure travelers and reactivate reservations on the platform, which have fallen dramatically due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A survey by AirDNA, a company specialized in online rental analysis, reveals that Airbnb lost US$1 billion in bookings, with 90% of cancellations and an 85% drop in new bookings.

The concern with cleanliness will be one of the big issues in the hotel business. Those seeking accommodation via temporary rental sites need to deal with the fact that each host cleans their home as they wish. Hotels, on the other hand, follow hygiene protocols and are predictable regarding the standard of services.

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Danger: Animal Smuggling in Africa Went Up

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In recent weeks, nature, without the action of man, has proved that it can recover itself. We have seen swans and rays return to the canals of Venice, the Himalayas being observed from regions of India after decades of hiding behind smog, penguins wandering freely through districts of Cape Town. However, although nature breathes more lightly as pollution breaks down across much of the planet, there is one scenario that experts have not anticipated, and which is already beginning to wreak havoc in some regions: increased hunting and animal smuggling in Africa.

Destinations that depended on tourism to protect their wildlife are in an increasingly critical situation with each passing week. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) recently stated that three of the few hundred remaining giant ibises have been poisoned. In Cambodia, endangered bird species are also being hunted and killed. 100 painted storks were killed in Prek Toal Ramsar, the largest waterfowl colony in Southeast Asia.

The future scenario is even more terrifying, according to environmental protection experts: without the financial return of viable tourism, it is impossible to know how long the hunting activities will continue.

The situation in some African destinations is already complicated. “Hunting will grow with the lack of tourism, because the mere presence of visitors is an important form of prevention,” says Dereck Joubert, founder of Great Plains Conservation, which has camps on private concessions in three African countries: Kenya, Botswana and Zimbabwe. He adds:

“If tourism doesn’t recover, and many people are fired, a cycle of poverty will begin that will provoke a need for survival, and for many people who live near parks and wildlife areas, that can provoke a return to hunting”.

Joubert also stresses the possible cultural loss related to this movement. “A large portion of people at risk of losing their jobs have a deep knowledge of hunting techniques and know the regions like nobody else. We have to take this reality extremely seriously,” he says.

Efforts to keep animals and communities safe

Based on the experience of those closely following the impacts of the pandemic in these regions, experts warn that hunting in places like Kruger Park in northeast South Africa may continue to be low, as during the lockdown it is more difficult to transport rhino horns, for example. However, in places with more open ecosystems, such as Botswana, this activity is already growing. By the beginning of 2020 alone, 31 rhinos have been hunted, a larger number than last year. At least the closed borders have prevented hunters from returning to Africa to kill for leisure.

The increase in wildlife hunting rates has two reasons: being a source of food for impoverished local communities, who lose income from tourism, or the illegal sale of specimens or parts of animals, which causes park rangers to face a new threat. “Professional hunters have great access to areas that were previously functional. We need urgent efforts against hunting,” Joubert says. The hunt is on the rise due to rhinoceros horn smugglers and the ivory of elephant fangs.

Plan of action

The control and monitoring teams, while concerned with the progression of COVID-19 in Africa, are making increasing efforts to maintain a constant alert and protect elephants, lions, leopards and many other vulnerable animals from predatory hunting.

“At Great Plains, we ask for volunteers to join our team of guides, made up of men and women who know everything about these areas and the savannahs, to carry out regular preventive actions.”.

Social actions are also part of this effort. “We give donated medical supplies to the clinics and create emergency medical facilities in the village closest to each concession to ensure that our communities are safe and less prone to poverty. And this is also important: we don’t fire anyone,” he stresses.

In Kenya, in the conservation areas, rangers continue to patrol the land daily. And these professionals belong to the communities, which considerably increases the intelligence needed to keep the hunters away. Even so, it’s always a risk.

ANIMAL SMUGGLING IN AFRICA IS A GROWING PROBLEM YET AGAIN

Communities that make a living from tourism

Until the beginning of this year, before the collapse of local tourism, the activity was responsible for more than one million jobs in Kenya. According to the latest World Tourism Organization report, 67 million travelers visited Africa in 2018 – a figure that showed annual growth. In the case of wildlife reserves, tourism sometimes accounted for 100% of annual income.

As it is impossible to keep the lodges open and with teams reduced (many officials chose to return to the communities to stay with their families during quarantine), some conservation areas foresee a drop in the number of anti-hunting patrols, in addition to lower salaries for members of these groups.

The Kenyan government, through the Kenya Wildlife Service, was doing a good job in controlling hunting, along with communities, rangers and private conservation areas. Last year, the rhino birth rate in Kenya was higher than the mortality rate, and the killing of elephants was also under control. But the COVID-19 pandemic and the collapse of tourism threaten all these achievements.

Currently, the government, the private sector and associations like Kenya Wildlife Conservancies and Maasai Mara Conservancies are trying to raise funds to keep the conservation areas functioning and ensure that all park rangers receive a salary. Without the income from tourism, the income from meat, ivory and rhino horns will increase, experts claim.

For example, in Kilimanjaro National Park, an essential wildlife corridor for several species – including elephants, zebras and impalas – dozens of villages depended on safari tourism. In many private conservation areas, or managed by local communities, about 50 percent of expected tourism revenue by 2020 has already fallen to zero. Without that income, it is increasingly difficult for communities to have food, and it is also more difficult to keep rangers’ vehicles on the road. So, urgently solutions required.

Project Rhino, a non-governmental organization in Durban, South Africa, recently announced an increase in rhino hunting. In the first week of quarantine alone, seven animals were killed. The growth has been attributed to the ease with which hunters have to flee in regions where surveillance has declined due to social isolation and falling incomes to pay for surveillance services.

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