The coronavirus outbreak could cost Vietnam $4 billion in lost tourism in just 3 months, according to the country's department of tourism

Kate Taylor/Business InsiderA shopkeeper at Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, checks her phone.
  • The coronavirus outbreak is expected to cause $US3 to $US4 billion in direct damage to Vietnam’s tourism industry, Vietnam’s department of tourism told Business Insider.
  • Coronavirus “is expected to cause huge damage to Vietnam’s tourism industry in the short and medium term,” a representative for the department of tourism said.
  • The loss of Chinese visitors is weighing heavily on Vietnam, where roughly a third of international tourists are from China.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Vietnam’s tourism industry is already taking an economic hit due to the coronavirus outbreak.

While the World Tourism Organisation says it is too early to estimate the full impact of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by coronavirus, Vietnam’s department of tourism told Business Insider earlier this week that the outbreak “is expected to cause huge damage to Vietnam’s tourism industry in the short and medium term.”

“In three months, the estimated direct damage to Vietnam’s tourism industry could reach between $US3 and $US4 billion,” a representative for the country’s department of tourism said in an email.

Vietnam’s tourism industry has seen remarkable growth in recent years. According to the department of tourism, more than 18 million international travellers visited Vietnam in 2019, up 16.2% from 2018.

Chinese tourists typically make up more than 30% of all international tourists in Vietnam. With China barring tourists from travelling abroad and Vietnam prohibiting the entry of travellers from areas that have been hit by the coronavirus outbreak, that figure has plummeted.

Vietnam is also losing potential visitors from other countries that are newly concerned about travelling in Asia, according to the department of tourism. Some domestic travel within Vietnam has also been restricted.

Mekong deltaKate Taylor/Business InsiderA guide leads a boat tour in the Mekong Delta.

Stephen Wyatt, the country head of real-estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle Vietnam, told Business Insider that coronavirus has already had a “dramatic” impact on the tourism industry in Vietnam.

“We’ve been talking to a number of the hotel groups and their numbers are down quite significantly – 30%, 40%, 50%, 60% down on year-over-year figures,” Wyatt said last week.

Ultimately, many businesses in Vietnam are bracing for the impact of the coronavirus. While the Vietnamese government has not lowered its economic growth target for 2020, former Vietnamese government adviser Le Dang Doanh told Business Insider that it is unlikely that the country will remain unaffected.

“The government still keeps the growth target unchanged,” said Doanh, who served as a member of the UN Committee for Development Policy from 2016 to 2018. “But I think the GDP growth rate of Vietnam’s economy in 2020 should be reduced by ca. 1% from the 6.9% target, maybe to around 6.0-5.9%.”

As of Friday, there have been 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Vietnam, according to the World Health Organisation. There are more than 76,000 confirmed cases worldwide in 27 countries.

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