Nguyen Van Hung, Vietnam’s Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, has just presented the government with a proposal for resuming Vietnam tourism to foreign tourists in a safe and efficient manner.
According to the proposal, after the first pilot cycle for receiving foreign tourists, the second phase will run from now until March 30, 2022, with the number of qualified localities in the program being expanded to include all those who have completed Covid-19 vaccine booster shots and have a contained outbreak (green zone, according to the health ministry’s outbreak assessment criteria).
This is a significant improvement over the present five locations of Phu Quoc Island (Kiên Giang Province in the south), Quang Nam, Da Nang, and Khanh Hoa in the middle area, and Quang Ninh in the north, with Ho Chi Minh City and Binh Dinh on the way.
Testing for Covid-19 can be done at the hotel locations, with no distinction made between local and foreign travelers, and no time limits applied.
Vietnam tourism will be totally open to foreign tourists from March 31, 2022, with incoming and outgoing tourists welcomed at all international border gateways.
Tourists entering Vietnam must be properly vaccinated against Covid-19 (with certificates) at least 14 days before to arrival, or have confirmation of Covid-19 recovery within six months after entry. Partially vaccinated or young children will have different requirements.
They must also have a negative PCR-RT COVID-19 test 72 hours before to entrance and obtain Covid-19 treatment coverage with a minimum value of US$50,000 in health insurance.
According to existing legislation, all authorized hospitality firms are permitted to engage in the welcoming of foreign tourists.
The end of the first quarter was chosen because Vietnam wants to finish administering booster shots to all adults first, and any later date would reduce Vietnam’s attractiveness as a tourist destination, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, because many countries in the region are also making plans to reopen soon to restore Vietnam tourism to foreign tourists.
The next three months will give relevant ministries and authorities plenty of time to adjust regulations and issue appropriate guidance, as well as ample time for Vietnam tourism businesses to run advertisements, public relations campaigns, and travel promotion programs, and prepare for the arrival of foreign tourists during peak season.
May is also when Viet Nam will host the Southeast Asia Games (SEA Games 31) in 2021, and the early announcement of the reopening would help attract tourists, particularly from ASEAN nations with high immunization rates.
Vietnam tourism should open before SEA Games
Experts at a workshop in Hanoi urged that Vietnam tourism should reopen its doors to foreign tourists sooner than planned in order to capture possibilities and avoid being left behind by regional competition.
Under a trial program that began in mid-November 2021, the government has welcomed over 8,500 foreign tourists with vaccine passports from a variety of markets, including Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States.
According to Nguyen Trung Khanh, head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, the pilot plan had great results, creating a solid platform for the tourism sector to welcome back foreign tourists in the near future.
Khanh went on to say that the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism is working together with other ministries and organizations to supplement and release comprehensive COVID-19 rules, with the primary goal of welcoming foreign tourists as soon as feasible.
Reopening the border as soon as possible
Vietnam has resumed flight routes to the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Taiwan, according to Dinh Viet Son, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (China). It is also in talks with other countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Russia.
He urged that the government restore the country’s borders to air travel sooner than April or May, as planned, given that Vietnam would host the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in May.
“We should open the door just from the beginning of February, because we have fixed flight schedules to our important markets like Europe and Northeast Asia,” said Son. “The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam is considering increasing the frequency of flights to licensed destinations, meaning we will have a lot of flights on the horizon.”
Truong Gia Binh, the head of the Private Sector Research and Development Board (Board IV), agreed with Son, saying that whether or not Vietnam opens its doors to foreign tourists has no bearing on the nature of the epidemic on the ground.
“What we have done over the past two months shows the implementation of the pilot scheme has not affected local pandemic control,” said Binh.
According to the expert, if the country does not reopen to foreign tourists, it would go against the government’s economic recovery strategy, affecting the employment of more than 2.5 million people and wreaking havoc on other industries. Furthermore, it will result in the country missing out on significant prospects, not to mention the sick condition of the travel industry.
Getting rid of bottlenecks for accessible Vietnam tourism
In addition to expediting the reopening of Vietnam tourism to foreign tourists, the aviation representative urged that authorities make overseas tourists’ lives easier. He claims that, in addition to negative PCR COVID-19 test certificates, the necessity for COVID-19 fast testing for passengers before departure and after arrival at airports is generating problems for both airlines and passengers.
“Only a few regular international flights have resumed, leading to congestion at international arrival terminals at Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat airports. We wonder how the problem will be resolved if this policy is maintained when more regular international commercial flights are allowed,” said Son.
If rapid antigen atesting is still necessary, Son suggests that it be conducted in areas where tourists are planned to come and stay as part of their package tours, rather than at the airport.
ASEAN ministers thumbs up reopening of regional tourism
According to a statement, tourism ministers from Asean member countries have agreed to reopen Asean tourism in order to restore the business in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The participants at the 25th Meeting of Asean Tourist Ministers, which was led by Cambodian Tourism Minister Thong Khon, emphasized that the Asean tourism sector is not only ready to reopen, but would also bounce back fast and with greater resilience.
The ministers decided to announce the reopening of Asean tourism, both intra-regional and international, according to the statement, emphasizing that every feasible coordination and collaboration will be adopted to ensure a progressive and steady reopening process.
They also made an agreement on the use of a standardized Covid-19 vaccine recognition system across regional nations, while applauding the gradual roll-out of Covid-19 immunization in each Asean member nation, which is a significant signal for the reopening of regional tourism.
The ministers emphasized the importance of enhancing intra-bloc tourist cooperation in order for Asean to stay competitive in this area.
Current situation of Vietnam tourism and plans
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) in mid-January conducted a press conference in Cambodia as part of the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2022 to inform foreign media reporters about Vietnam’s recent tourism situation.
As a result, Vietnam tourism received 18 million visitors in 2019, up 16.2 percent from the previous year, and 85 million internal visitor visits, up 6 percent. The total tourism receipts are anticipated to be in excess of USD31.2 billion.
Vietnam tourism has won numerous World Travel Awards, including World’s Leading Heritage Destination, Asia’s Leading Cultural Destination, Asia’s Leading Culinary Destination, Asia’s Leading Heritage Destination, Asia’s Leading Destination, Asia’s Leading Sustainable Tourism Destination, and World’s Best Golf Destination.
However, because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the years 2020-2021, Vietnam tourism suffered a significant setback. After several years of outstanding development, Vietnam will see a steep drop in both local and foreign tourists in 2020 as a result of COVID-19.
International tourists fell by 80% (to 3.7 million arrivals), while local visitors fell by 34.1 percent (reaching 56 million visitors). International tourists were mainly unrecorded in 2021, and domestic visitors declined by 29% over the same year. Since then, tourism enterprises have been dormant, numerous businesses have run into difficulties, and staff have had to resign.
Faced with numerous challenges, the tourism industry has made significant efforts to implement a variety of solutions to alleviate difficulties for businesses and employees; propose to the Government and Prime Minister solutions to aid business recovery, such as lowering land tax, lowering electricity prices, and lowering or eliminating the cost of visiting many tourist attractions.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has released Guidance 3862 on the safe and flexible adaption and effective control of COVID-19 in tourism, as well as Plan 3228 to put in place solutions to boost tourism demand. Localities, companies, and individuals have reacted positively to these ideas, igniting a new trend and inspiring people to visit Vietnam’s secure and beautiful areas.
According to Guidance 3862, the following standards must be met in order for monuments and museums to operate in places where there is a level 2 pandemic risk:
- Only servicing tourist groups of no more than 20 people each group; maintaining a safe distance; and adhering to all disease prevention and control rules.
- Implementing regular disinfection steps in compliance with Ministry of Health guidelines.
- Tables of regulations to guide the execution of COVID-19 preventative and control measures are being prepared.
- Tour guides and narrators must have at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccination for 14 days or longer, or have recovered from COVID-19 within 6 months or have a COVID-19 negative test certificate, according to provincial-level Department of Health requirements.
To date, the government has consented to test the concept of admitting international visitors with “vaccine passports” to destinations like as Phu Quoc (Kien Giang), Quang Nam, Khanh Hoa, Da Nang, Quang Ninh, Binh Dinh, and Ho Chi Minh City. To welcome back international travelers, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has issued an Interim Guidance and started an advertising campaign called “Live Fully in Vietnam.”
In the near future, Vietnam tourism will focus on five areas: (1) opening up to restore tourism while ensuring effective disease prevention; (2) supporting businesses and employees to maintain momentum in the future; (3) restoring both supply and demand side tourism activities; (4) restructuring the tourism industry to speed up the recovery process; and (5) developing domestic tourism to improve internal resources for long-term tourism sustainability.