Tourism agency warns against ‘vaccine tours’

The HCM City Tourism Department has ordered travel firms to suspend “vaccine tours” to the US due to possible hidden costs and the risk of no return flights.

Tourism agency warns against ‘vaccine tours’
An ad about vaccine tours notes that only one-way tickets are provided. The HCM City Tourism Department has warned the public against such tours due to possible hidden costs and a risk of no return flights. (Photo: VNA)

The HCM City Tourism Department has ordered travel firms to suspend “vaccine tours” to the US due to possible hidden costs and the risk of no return flights.

Travel operators have been selling “vaccine tours” which provide only one-way tickets. There is no information about the return ticket on the ads, and other features remain unclear, according to the department.

Speaking at a recent meeting with tour operators, Nguyen Quy Phuong, director of the Tourism Department under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said people must be careful before booking the tours.

“The vaccine tours are costly and only offer one-way tickets, and information regarding vaccinations is vague and there is no guarantee that the customer’s needs will be met.”

“Organising such a vaccine tour is not feasible in the current situation,’’ he said.

Despite the fourth wave of the pandemic, Vietnam is considered safer than many other countries thanks to its ‘consistent and comprehensive’ strategies, according to Phuong.

Since March last year, the country has closed its borders to everyone except repatriated citizens, foreign investors and certain businesspeople. Vietnamese citizens overseas who have registered with embassies have to wait for long periods to enter Vietnam.

Rachael Chen, spokesperson for the US Embassy, said that foreign nationals who want to temporarily visit the US must show their purpose of travel and must meet all requirements and be approved for the visa for which they applied. 

Eligibility for vaccination remains the jurisdiction of health services in individual US states and the US government, she said. 

A resident of Thu Duc city, who wished to be unnamed, said her family of three had US visas and wanted to travel to the US to visit relatives and receive vaccinations. But she is concerned about whether there will be a return flight.

“If there is no return flight, we will be stranded there,” she said. 

Nguyen Huu Y Yen, general director of Saigontourist, said: “Most travel firms find it hard to ensure the time when the tourists return home. If the guests are stranded abroad, the travel companies will be held responsible.”

Jyoti Mayal, president of the Travel Agents Association of India, said: “It’s not illegal to go to the US. Travelling is absolutely your option. As an association, our advice is check out the credibility of the agent, check out all the documents, and then move forward.”

Suthiphong Pheunphiphop, president of the Thai Travel Association, also noted that tour operators would not be responsible if the tourists experience side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Tourists face a lot of risks. So they need to carefully consider costs and risks,” he said.

Recently, ads for vaccine tours to the US have flooded social media in Vietnam.

According to the ads, one tour costs 45 million VND (1,950 USD) for an eight-day trip, including one-way air ticket from HCM City to US cities like New York or Los Angeles, three-star hotel, and a single dose of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, local media have reported.

The jabs developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna require a two-dose regimen with a 21-day interval, while Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine needs only one dose.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is about 66 percent effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19, according to data released by the producer.

Experts said the total cost for the vaccine tour, including entry fees, quarantine, testing, and air tickets for the return could be up to 170 million VND (7,000 USD) per person.

Tran Van Long, director of the Vietnam Tourism Company, said the company wanted to launch ads about “vaccine tours” to learn more about the market before it asked for approval from tourism agencies to organise commercial flights for the tours. 

“After the consultation with the Department of Tourism, the company agreed to wait for more time to ensure the interests of customers.”

Vu The Binh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said the sale of vaccine tours to the US was not prohibited but warned that tourists returning to Vietnam will have to comply with pandemic measures under the guidance from the Ministry of Health, including the current 21-day concentrated quarantine and COVID testing.

In early May, Vietnam extended its quarantine policy from 14 to 21 days for all arrivals as the country was struggling with the fourth wave, including cases with a highly infectious variant from India.

The US has policies on COVID-19 vaccination for international visitors as part of its effort to bring back tourists.

All air passengers two-years-old and above can enter the US, including US citizens and legal permanent residents as long as they present certain documents. They must present a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure, or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days.

Elsewhere in the world, travel companies in Thailand are also selling vaccine tours to the US.

The US has one of the higher rates of vaccination in the world with at least 47 per cent of adults being fully inoculated as of this month, according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Meanwhile, developing and low-income countries are struggling to secure enough vaccine doses due to a lack of supply.

 

VNA

No vaccine tours to the US this year: tourism department

No vaccine tours to the US this year: tourism department

Travel companies have to temporarily stop advertising and organizing vaccine tours to the US in 2021, the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism announced after a meeting with representatives of a number of travel firms on May 24.

 
 

Other News

.
Bun nghe xao long, a unique dish of Hue
Bun nghe xao long, a unique dish of Hue
TRAVELicon  28/05/2021 

“Bún nghệ xào lòng (stir-fried vermicelli with pig intestines and turmeric) is one of Hue’s most popular dishes. It has closely connected with many generations of locals,” said my friend’s mother Hoang Thi Thuy.

Sling-shaped bungalow resort sets Vietnam record
Sling-shaped bungalow resort sets Vietnam record
TRAVELicon  27/05/2021 

A resort with fifteen sling-shaped houses in Quan Ba District in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang is certified by the Vietnam Record Organisation (Vietkings) to be the first of its kind in Vietnam.

An unforgettable experience with Bun Ngan Nhan
An unforgettable experience with Bun Ngan Nhan
TRAVELicon  27/05/2021 

Compared to the Southern and the Central Vietnam, the Northern region, particularly Hanoi, boasts a wide variety of dishes using Muscovy duck, from noodle dish to hot pot and stir-fry.

Famous artists slated to promote tourism under proposal
Famous artists slated to promote tourism under proposal
TRAVELicon  26/05/2021 

The state budget allocation for the tourism promotion fund annually is 10% of the total revenue to the state collection of visa fees and documents related to exit and entry into Vietnam for foreigners.

No vaccine tours to the US this year: tourism department
No vaccine tours to the US this year: tourism department
TRAVELicon  26/05/2021 

Travel companies have to temporarily stop advertising and organizing vaccine tours to the US in 2021, the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism announced after a meeting with representatives of a number of travel firms on May 24.

To reach this islet you have to travel on an underwater path
To reach this islet you have to travel on an underwater path
TRAVELicon  26/05/2021 

Among the numerous islets in Van Phong Bay, Khanh Hoa Province, are Diep Son, Hon Giua and Hon Duoc islets. Diep Son and Hon Giua islets are connected to each other by a natural walking path which is submerged in the sea at high tide.

Try seafood specialties in Ca Mau
Try seafood specialties in Ca Mau
TRAVELicon  26/05/2021 

Mudskippers grilled with chili salt and mud creepers with coconut milk are one of the best seafood specialties in Ca Mau Province.

Tourism businesses need to become flexible post-pandemic
Tourism businesses need to become flexible post-pandemic
TRAVELicon  25/05/2021 

Tourism businesses should be flexible to foster domestic travel amid the Covid-19 pandemic, experts have said.

Try goat meat specialties in Ba Vi District
Try goat meat specialties in Ba Vi District
TRAVELicon  25/05/2021 

Meats from goat, hill chicken and ostrich are the must-try dishes in Ba Vi District in Hanoi.

Tien Son Cave, a hidden gem in Phong Nha – Ke Bang complex
Tien Son Cave, a hidden gem in Phong Nha – Ke Bang complex
TRAVELicon  25/05/2021 

Tien Son Cave belongs to the Phong Nha – Ke Bang tourist complex that comprises natural scenic spots in the central province of Quang Binh. It is now on the list to be recommended to UNESCO for recognition as a World Heritage Site.

Tourism sector suffers another hit from recent Covid outbreak
Tourism sector suffers another hit from recent Covid outbreak
FEATUREicon  25/05/2021 

Businesses have sustained a new blow from the fourth recurrence of Covid-19.

VN online travel agencies plan to "move" to Singapore to 'avoid tax'
VN online travel agencies plan to "move" to Singapore to 'avoid tax'
TRAVELicon  24/05/2021 

Many domestic online travel agencies (OTAs) have plans to register their businesses in countries like Singapore to avoid tax obligations, which will help them compete on price with foreign OTAs.

Vietnamese food: Stir-fried noodles
Vietnamese food: Stir-fried noodles
TRAVELicon  24/05/2021 

Stir-fried crispy noodles is a very popular Chinese dish in HCM City. The way the rich, savoury sauce soaks into the crispy fried noodles makes the meal simply irresistible!

HCM City considers museum system to boost tourism
HCM City considers museum system to boost tourism
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  24/05/2021 

HCM City needs to consider the creation of a museum system as an important aspect of the city's cultural development, according to a report in Người Lao Động (Labourer) newspaper.

Lai Vung-style fermented pork roll
Lai Vung-style fermented pork roll
TRAVELicon  23/05/2021 

Lai Vung District in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap is well-known by nem, (fermented pork roll), its unique specialty.

Noodle creativity in Da Nang knows no boundaries
Noodle creativity in Da Nang knows no boundaries
TRAVELicon  21/05/2021 

With the return of COVID-19 community infections up and down the country, health authorities have once again stepped up messaging to encourage everyone in society to keep each other safe by wearing masks and other measures. 

Lonely Planet lists seven best Vietnamese road trips
Lonely Planet lists seven best Vietnamese road trips
TRAVELicon  22/05/2021 

The Hai Van Pass and the Ha Giang Loop have been named among the seven best road trips for travelers to enjoy in Vietnam, according to the Australian version of renowned travel guide Lonely Planet.

Vietnamese travel firm offers vaccine tour to the US
Vietnamese travel firm offers vaccine tour to the US
TRAVELicon  21/05/2021 

A Vietnamese travel company has launched Covid-19 vaccine tours to the US, which has attracted many people.

Assorted duck dishes a delightful Hanoi delicacy
Assorted duck dishes a delightful Hanoi delicacy
TRAVELicon  21/05/2021 

Duck meat is a popular food all over the world, but in Vietnam you can enjoy an assortment of duck dishes all in one meal.

Khmer people’s unique shrimp cake in the delta
Khmer people’s unique shrimp cake in the delta
TRAVELicon  20/05/2021 

Banh cong, or Vietnamese fried shrimp cake, is a rustic specialty typical of the Khmer ethnic people in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN