Thankful for the help from locals, international tourists expressed their admiration for a safe, friendly, hospitable destination. Many said they would introduce to their loved ones and friends about Hoi An and Quang Nam in particular and the Central region of Vietnam in general, when the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control.
Just when Artur Gorge from Portugal arrived in Hoi An, the pandemic broke out, forcing him to stay in this ancient city. For over a year being stuck here, he made a living from teaching online, but the income is just enough to cover his daily need. Luckily, the owner of homestay Mr Tho Villa where he stayed has allowed him to stay for free. Gorge only has to pay for utilities.
Gorge said he was anxious at first but support from the local authorities and people has helped him make it through.
He said with gratitude and delight that in over a year living here, he has been protected from the pandemic. "I am so moved to receive help from people, living here is just like in my homeland," Gorge said.
The Mr Tho Garden Villas Hoi An has five rooms, but the owner has let stuck tourists to stay for free in four rooms, only collecting electricity and water charges. Other homestays in Hoi An have also offered free accommodation for such tourists.
Anastazja Szagajdeuko from Poland said that everything here is just like home and people like her get help whenever they need. She said thank to the support she has had no difficulties and found herself happy and peaceful during over a year trapped in the city.
Expressing her belief in the recovery of local tourism, Anastazja Szagajdeuko said Vietnam’s ongoing nationwide vaccination drive is the foremost condition for controlling the epidemic and opening up the prospect of safely restoring the flow of visitors to this beautiful and hospitable city.
"Surely I will be “an ambassador” to spread the message about Hoi An and Vietnam as places of charms, safety, and hospitality," she said.
Sharing difficulties with visitors is a way to keep the friendly image of Hoi An in the hearts of visitors.
Pham Thi Linh Chi, Chairwoman of the Hoi An homestay & villas Quang Nam sub-association (under the Quang Nam Tourism Association), said the majority of tourists stuck in Hoi An have difficulties, and foreigners working in the tourism industry also face the same situation as tourism businesses have been closed down.
“We strive to assist these stranded travelers and share their problems during this time," she added.
Currently, there are more than 1,800 foreigners staying in Quang Nam, of whom 850 came here for business purposes and 900 are tourists. Most of the stuck tourists are staying in the tourist city of Hoi An. Local owners of accommodations have let them stay free or at reduced charges, until commercial flights resume and they can return home.