Pollution causes big revenue losses for tourism in central Vietnam

The tourism sector in the four central provinces suffering from the seawater pollution caused in April by Taiwanese steel maker Formosa Ha Tinh has reported thousands of billions of dong in lost revenues, heard a meeting organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism last week.




Fishermen are seen on a boat at sea. Fishermen in the four central provinces suffering from the seawater pollution caused in April by Taiwanese steel maker Formosa Ha Tinh will get compensation at a rate equivalent to six months of economic damage while the tourism sector is not entitled to any compensation despite lost revenues of thousands of billions of dong. 




Ha Tinh Province reported a year-on-year plunge of a staggering 90% in sea tourism revenue in the January-September period while providers of other tourism services their revenue plummeting 40-50%.

Lost revenue from travel, hotel and restaurant services in Quang Binh Province has amounted to VND1.9 trillion (US$85.3 million).

Lost revenue in Quang Tri Province is smaller, at VND250 billion, while Thua Thien-Hue has shifted its focus to other tourism products to offset lost revenue in sea tourism services.

Nguyen Van Ky, deputy director of Quang Binh’s Department of Tourism, told the Daily that tourist arrivals in the province dipped more than 70% in the first nine months of this year and that the provincial tourism authority had tried to promote cave discovery tour programs but the tourism sector had still reported lost revenue of a hefty VND1.9 trillion.

Industrial waste dumped into the sea by the steel complex of Formosa in Ha Tinh Province killed more than 100 tons of fish which were washed ashore in the four provinces, directly affecting thousands of families in fishing communities along the central coast.

Hotel investors in Quang Binh have also felt the impact of the pollution. This province has seen 17 half-finished hotel projects suspended due to the sharp decline in tourist arrivals.

“VND15-17 billion has been spent on each hotel project on average. The pollution has left negative impacts on both fishery and tourism sectors but travel and other services firms are not entitled to compensation or support,” Ky said.

Tourism authorities of the four provinces have proposed the Government adopt support solutions such as lowering or exempting loan interest, rescheduling loans or freezing debts for tourism and tourism-related services enterprises.

In recent interviews with the Daily on ways to help the four central provinces lure visitors back, travel and travel-related services providers said they had seen no effective solution in the short run as the negative impact will continue to be felt in coming years.

Nguyen Duc Quynh, deputy general director of Furama Resort Danang, said he feels his hands are tied now as it would take years to return to normal.

In addition to the sea pollution, tourists are also concerned about the safety of water resources and foodstuffs, he said.

In late June, Formosa admitted responsibility for the mass fish deaths on the central coast and agreed to pay half a billion U.S. dollars in economic damage.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has told Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue provinces to compensate fishermen affected by the fish deaths at a rate equivalent to six months of economic damage.

SGT

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