Hanoi’s Old Quarter reels under Covid-19 blow

Services and catering businesses in Hanoi’s iconic Old Quarter have been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hanoi Old Quarter, Hanoi tourism business, Vietnam Covid-19

Up to 390 businesses and 1,155 households making a living by providing services in their house and on the sidewalk have either postponed operations or closed for good, according to the Hoan Kiem Tax Department.

Linh, a souvenir shop owner on Ma May Street, said: "In the past, there were many tourists, mostly Westerners. Now there are no customers."

She added that she spends her days these days cleaning and organizing dusty items.

Nearby, Nhung’s "banh mi" (Vietnamese baguette sandwich) shop on Dinh Liet Street, usually crowded with hungry customers, is now deserted.

"We used to sell about 400-500 "banh mi" from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. Now we only sell about 150," she said.

To attract more customers, she has a discount program for online orders and has cut down delivery fees. She also plans to add more items to the menu soon.

Like many other shop owners in the Old Quarter, she wants the world to be free from the coronavirus so that international vistors can arrive in Vietnam.

Tourism revenues of Hoan Kiem district, where the Old Quarter is located, decreased almost 65 percent year-on-year in the first half of the year, according the district People's Committee.

Before the pandemic hit Vietnam, the district weekly welcomed some 30,000 international visitors on average, with the Old Quarter its biggest draw. In March, when Hanoi became a Covid-19 hotspot, the district received 2,000-3,000 visitors per week.

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