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Hanoi, 11 localities discuss removing checkpoints, creating ‘green tourism corridor’

Resumption of safe travel under a ‘tourism bubble’ between Hanoi and 11 cities and provinces is facing challenges.

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Hai Phong once set overly strict regulations to control people entering or exiting the city, but But has now removed them. Deputy Director of Hai Phong Tourism Department Duong Duc Hung admitted that it was true that Hai Phong ‘took a step ahead’ when fighting the pandemic.

However, soon after Resolution No 128 was released, which stipulates that Vietnam will have to ‘live together with Covid-19’, the city removed all the checkpoints at the entrance gates to Hai Phong.

Vietnam is currently transitioning into a stage of safe and flexible adaptation and effective control of Covid-19.

Deputy Director of Son La provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Tran Xuan Viet said people are no longer ‘afraid’ in Van Ho because the checkpoints have been lifted. More and more people are coming to the province, especially on weekends as Highway No 6 is clear now.

Though pandemic developments remain complicated, Hung said that the city would not think of setting up checkpoints again. Instead, the city will gather strength to curb virus transmission in the community. Travelers receive detailed instructions from the tourism department.

Regarding the publicity of lists of safe destinations and tourist service establishments, most localities have inspected and certified establishments that meet requirements.

But Pham Tien Dung, CEO of Golden Tour, said such lists exist but they are not official. When Dung asked, some local hotels gave vague answers, and he was even told to ‘ask CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)’ if he needed further information. Even state management agencies will not confirm that the information is official because it changes every day.

“We looked around for information, including the websites of healthcare and tourism departments, and People’s Committees, but we could not find anything,” Dung said.

In reply, Vuong Thi Hai Yen, Deputy Director of Thanh Hoa Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said this is just an administrative procedure and there is no problem in implementation. All safe establishments in Thanh Hoa have QR Codes and safety labels.

Pham Ngoc Thuy, Director of Quang Ninh Tourism Department, said the province has inspected service providers and published a list of safe establishments, classified in three levels – highly safe, safe and unsafe. The list is shown on the department’s official website. Unsafe establishments are not allowed to receive guests.

One matter of concern is how service providers should act if Covid cases are found at their establishments. Anh Duong Tourism CEO Nguyen Tuan Anh said that if state management agencies explain what to do in this case, travel firms will be able to deal with the problem properly.

There are also questions about Covid-19 treatment costs. In addition to compulsory insurance, there is Covid-19 insurance with the premium of VND70,000 per day. Not all travelers are ready to take the insurance policy.

This is not a problem in Lao Cai. Tran Xuan Binh, Deputy Director of the provincial tourism department, said if a traveler tests positive, he or she will be asked to quarantine at medical units and have a PCR test. If the result is positive, they will be treated at the province’s field hospitals, or taken to their accommodation in an ambulances. The expenses will be paid by the province.

Deputy Director of Lai Chau Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Tran Manh Hung said the province is applying similar procedures and will pay fees for travelers.

Green corridor

Another question has been raised about procedures on how to receive guests in 12 localities in order to establish a ‘safe tourism corridor’ in the immediate time, and in all localities in the future.

Director of Ha Giang Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Hong Hai thinks there is no need to have many sets of criteria, and that the basic documents are enough. If each locality sets barriers, this will create difficulties for travelers and travel firms.

Since November 23, travelers to Ha Giang have been required to only make health declarations, and don’t have to test. All medical units must have hotlines and solutions to help the tourism sector if troubles occur.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) General Director Nguyen Trung Khanh agreed with Hai, saying that the two documents are enough, and localities should not set requirements at a higher levels.

He asked cities and provinces and businesses to regularly update and share information on the Vietnam Safe Travel app. About 14,600 units have registered and now interact regularly on the platform.

In the immediate time, in order to recover tourism in Hanoi and localities, and to gradually reopen domestic travel, Doan Van Viet, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said a safe tourism corridor under the ‘tourism bubble’ model should be created. 

Ngoc Ha

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