Hotel in Vietnam’s “Little Russia” underwent $44,000 renovation but guests cancelled

  • A hotel in Vietnam invested thousands in improving facilities for Russian visitors who never showed up.
  • The MerPerle Hon Tam Resort in Nhu Trang, nicknamed “Little Russia,” blamed the war.
  • The absence of Russian visitors affected the hotel’s solvency, Bloomberg reported.

A five-star hotel in Vietnam spent thousands of dollars upgrading facilities for its Russian visitors, only to have them canceled due to the country’s war with Ukraine.

The hotel, MerPerle Hon Tam Resort, is located in Nha Trang, a city often referred to as “Little Russia” according to Bloomberg due to the number of Russian visitors it welcomes each year.

“No tourism manager can count on that,” Tran Bao Doan, the hotel’s general manager, told the outlet.

MerPerle Hon Tam Resort has been feeling the implacable effects of the pandemic for the past two years, according to the outlet, as the tourism industry has been hit hard by government-imposed lockdowns.

Almost 200 million travel industry jobs are expected to disappear due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a forecast by the World Travel and Tourism Council. In addition, according to CNN, the world’s largest tourism company TUI reported that bookings in Europe fell by 81% from June 2020 to early August compared to the same period in 2019.

However, the resort had high hopes as travel picks up again with the easing of COVID-19 regulations.

Doan said the hotel spent nearly $44,000 upgrading guest facilities to prepare for its Russian visitors. It bought more mud for mud baths, planted trees and diversified its restaurant menu, Bloomberg reported.

However, it all seemed to have been in vain as many Russian visitors failed to show up after invading their country in Ukraine.

Travel and spending have been made particularly difficult for Russians due to the sanctions imposed by foreign countries. Aeroflot, Russia’s flagship airline, for example, recently announced that it has suspended all international flights because the penalties pose a high risk of aircraft leased abroad being confiscated.

The sanctions have also resulted in Russian residents being unable to use their credit or debit cards abroad. Recently, the Central Bank of Russia announced that customers of sanctioned banks will not be able to use Apple and Google Pay services.

Credit card companies and governments have also spoken out against Russia, preventing Russians from spending their money. Last month, Visa, Mastercard and American Express announced they were suspending operations in Russia to act in accordance with Western sanctions.

According to Doan, before the pandemic, about half of the hotel’s guests were Russian. “Then the war came,” he told Bloomberg. “Such a drop in revenue impacts our ability to pay for staff and maintenance fees.”

The absence of many Russian tourists was also felt in Thailand. In January, Russia accounted for 17% of international arrivals in Phuket.

A Thailand-based business owner told Insider’s Lina Batarags that his hotel industry friends who are based on the island said tourism numbers have fallen by 20% since the start of the war. The majority of these tourists are Russian, or at least Russian-speaking, he said.

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