Vietnam will pilot receiving foreign tourists from some countries from July.
Deputy Director-General of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) Ngo Hoai Chung said they had had a meeting with related agencies on March 24 to discuss opening the borders for tourism. VNAT once proposed to reopen the borders last July but the plan was delayed because of new outbreaks. This time, the expectation to reopen the border is higher because of Covid-19 vaccines.
Three main opinions have been gathered about the issue. Many people approved of the vaccine passport plan to recover businesses and tourism as quickly as possible. Other people agreed to reopen borders for people with vaccine passports but on the condition that passengers still have to follow 14-day quarantine regulation. Some others opposed the plan completely and do not want to reopen the border.
"If we don’t open the border soon, we may lose the advantage and market share as many countries have reopened borders," Chung said. "We'll have pilot programmes to test various aspects like suitable markets, inbound passenger procedures and safe destinations."
Chung said they aimed to receive tourists from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan first. The decisions are based on preventive works at those countries, bilateral agreements and how both parties accept each other's vaccination results. There will only be charter flights and only a few tourism companies are chosen for the programme.
In regard to safe destinations, only locations where the local authorities approve of the programme and have good preventive plans and attractions will be allowed to receive tourists.
"Not every tourism product is suitable now. We’re considering golf and seaside resorts. An inspection team will be set up to monitor the reception process," he said.
Tran Trong Kien, chairman of Tourism Advisory Board, and his two deputy-chairmen, Kenneth Atkinson and Vo Anh Tai, have signed a letter to PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc, asking the government to start receiving international tourists. The board also emphasised the importance of preventive measures and suggested mandatory travel medical insurance for international tourists to Vietnam and Vietnamese tourists abroad.
Several countries have reopened the borders again as Covid-19 vaccination programmes are carried out worldwide.
Singapore used an air travel pass and reciprocal green lanes. Thailand is considering cutting down the quarantine period for tourists who already tested negative or vaccinated before arrival. Sri Lanka has established bio bubbles in which visitors can stay at one of the 52 hotels and a specific set of tourist attractions. The Maldives only needs visitors to conduct a PCR test 72 hours prior to check-in at the airport and a confirmed booking at a registered tourist facility.
Vietnam needs to research solutions and prepare all necessary conditions to open border for foreign tourists from July 2021, according to Nguyen Huu Tho, chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association.
Vietnam needs to design a roadmap for opening the market to receive foreign travelers or it will fail to develop tourism as other countries have taken one step forward.