Hotel in Vietnam’s ‘Little Russia’ Had $44K Revamp but Guests Canceled

  • A hotel in Vietnam spent thousands improving facilities for Russian visitors, who never showed up.
  • A manager at the hotel, which is located in a town dubbed “Little Russia,” blamed the war.
  • The absence of Russian visitors affected the hotel’s ability to pay for staff, Bloomberg reported.

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

The hotel, MerPerle Hon Tam Resort, is based in Nha Trang, a town often labeled “Little Russia,” due to the number of Russian visitors it welcomes every year, according to Bloomberg

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

MerPerle Hon Tam Resort already felt the unforgiving effects of the pandemic over the past two years, per the outlet, as the tourism industry was hit hard by government-imposed lockdowns. 

According to a forecast from the World Travel and Tourism Council, nearly 200 million travel industry jobs were forecasted to vanish due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the world’s largest tourism business TUI reported that bookings dropped by 81% in Europe from June 2020 through the beginning of August, compared with the same period in 2019, according to CNN.

The resort had high hopes, however, 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 bathing facilities, planted trees, and diversified its restaurant menu, Bloomberg reported. 

It was seemingly all for nothing, however, as many Russian visitors didn’t show up following their country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Travel and expenditure have been made particularly hard for Russians due to foreign-imposed sanctions. Aeroflot, Russia’s flagship airline carrier, for instance, recently announced it suspended all international flights, due to high risks of foreign-leased planes being impounded as a result of the penalties. 

The sanctions have also meant that Russian residents have been unable to use their credit or debit cards abroad. Recently, the Central Bank of Russia said that customers of sanctioned banks are unable to use Apple and Google Pay services.

Credit card companies, as well as governments, have taken a stand against Russia too, limiting Russians from spending their money. Last month, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express announced that they would suspend operations in Russia to act in accordance with Western sanctions.

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

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

One Thailand-based business owner told Insider’s Lina Batarags that his friends in the hotel industry, who were based on the island said they’d seen tourism numbers decline by 20% since the start of the war. The majority of those tourists were Russian, or at least Russian-speaking, he said.