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Vietnam braces for impact as China strikes back
David Andrews, Hanoi, May 19, 2014

VIOLENT protests in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) last week have led to a number of hotel cancellations in both cities, but the full impact of China's most recent political retaliation remains to be seen.


Paul Stevens, vice president of operations for Accor Vietnam, said: "Our hotels in Hanoi and HCMC are seeing some room cancellations from guests from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan…There have been no cancellations in other areas (such as Nha Trang, Danang)."


“We have received approximately 30-40 phone calls and messages from travel agencies and 20 from FITs in Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and China asking about safety in HCMC,” added Jason Huynh, sales manager at Hotel Majestic Saigon.


“As of yet we have not received any cancellations, but we are prepared for a five per cent cancellation rate over the coming weeks from these markets.”


Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Promotion Center‘s deputy director, Nguyen Bao Anh, noted: “Some hotels have seen a rise in bookings from Chinese and Singaporean clients since Tuesday, however the numbers are only small.”


Nguyen's comment echoes reports from other international hotel chains in Vietnam of an increased number of Chinese nationals who have temporarily relocated out of concerns for their safety.


The riots, which killed two Chinese nationals last week, were sparked when China shifted an oil rig into a part of the South China Sea that Vietnam is also claiming.


In retaliation, China has suspended bilateral exchanges with Vietnam and has urged its citizens not to travel to Vietnam. News agency Xinhua confirmed on Sunday that major travel agencies in China have announced they are suspending tours to Vietnam.


Speaking to TTG Asia e-Daily last week, before the boycott was announced, Christopher Low, general manager at Lac Hong Voyages Vietnam, said: “None of our tours in Ho Chi Minh have been affected, and from our Asian market, we have had just a single cancellation from a Singaporean client.”


Likewise, Huyen Dung, vice director at Sinhcafe Travel, commented: “We have had a single cancellation from a MICE group of 37 pax in May. There have been no requests for change in June and July.”


The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) has called on tourism and hospitality business not to “discriminate against Chinese tourists”.


VNAT general director, Nguyen Van Tuan said he will “continue keeping a close watch on the situation and would act to prevent any moves that could affect relationships between the two countries”.

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