Hotel in Vietnam’s ‘Little Russia’ had a $44K refurbishment, but guests canceled

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

A five-star hotel in Vietnam has spent thousands of dollars upgrading facilities for its Russian visitors, only to cancel them 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” due to the number of Russian visitors it welcomes each year, according to Bloomberg.

“This is something that no tourism manager can anticipate,” Tran Bao Doan, the hotel’s general manager, told the outlet.

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

According to a forecast by the World Travel and Tourism Council, nearly 200 million travel industry jobs could be lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, 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, according to CNN.

However, the resort had high hopes as travel picks up again with the relaxation 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 bath facilities, planted trees and diversified its restaurant menu, Bloomberg reported.

However, it was seemingly all for nothing, as many Russian visitors failed to show up after their country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Travel and expenses have been made particularly difficult for Russians due to sanctions imposed by foreign countries. For example, Aeroflot, Russia’s main airline, recently announced that it has suspended all international flights due to the high risk of aircraft leased abroad being seized as a result of the sanctions.

The sanctions have also prevented Russian residents from using their credit or debit cards abroad. Recently, the Central Bank of Russia said customers of sanctioned banks will not be able to use Apple and Google Pay services.

Credit card companies, as well as governments, have also taken a stand against Russia, preventing the Russians from spending their money. Last month, Visa, Mastercard and American Express announced they would suspend operations in Russia in order to comply with Western sanctions.

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

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

A Thailand-based business owner told Insider’s Lina Batarags that his friends in the hotel industry, who were based on the island, said they had seen a 20% drop in tourist numbers since the war started. The majority of those tourists were Russian, or at least Russian-speaking, he said.

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