Tourists on cyclo tours in Hoi An ancient town, Quang Nam Province. — Photo courtesy of the Viet Nam National Administration for Tourism
According to the plan, after the first pilot period for receiving international tourists, the second phase will last from now until March 30, 2022, with the number of eligible localities in the programme extended to all those who have completed coverage of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots and with contained outbreak (green zone, as per the health ministry’s outbreak assessment criteria).
This is a huge step up from the currently five localities of Phú Quốc Island (Kiên Giang Province in the southern region), Quảng Nam, Đà Nẵng, and Khánh Hoà in the central region, and Quảng Ninh in the northern region, with HCM City and Bình Định soon to join the list.
COVID-19 testing can be conducted at the accommodation sites, with no discrimination between domestic and international tourists, and no time restrictions imposed.
From March 31, 2022, Việt Nam will be fully open to international tourism, with inbound and outbound tourists welcomed at all international border gates.
The tourists accepted into Việt Nam must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (with certificates) at least 14 days before entry, or have proof of recovery from COVID-19 within six months prior to entry. (There will be separate requirements for partially vaccinated or young children).
They will also need a negative PCR-RT COVID-19 tests taken 72 hours prior to entry, and purchase health insurance with COVID-19 treatment coverage with minimum value of US$50,000.
All eligible hospitality businesses as per current regulations are allowed to participate in reception of international tourists.
The end of first quarter was chosen as Việt Nam seeks to wrap up administration of booster shots to all adults, and any later date would reduce the attractiveness of Việt Nam as a tourist destination given that many countries in the region are also planning to reopen soon to restore international tourism, explained the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
The upcoming two months would provide ample time for relevant ministries and authorities to adjust the regulations and issue appropriate guidance, and for tourism businesses to carry out advertisements and PR campaigns and travel promotion programmes, and prepare for reception of international tourists during peak season.
May is also when Việt Nam is scheduled to host the 2021 Southeast Asia Games (SEA Games 31), and the early announcement of reopening will contribute to the tourist draw, especially from countries in ASEAN with relatively high vaccination rates.
After several provinces welcomed back foreign tourists on a trial basis in late November 2021, Vietnam has seen 8,500 foreign arrivals as of January 23.
Major airlines, travel businesses and hoteliers have signed a petition to the Prime Minister proposing that Vietnam reopen its door to international tourism in February as opposed to April or May as scheduled.