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Vietnam’s tourism policies need to be more open, consistent

Foreign travelers are looking forward to hearing the news about Vietnam’s reopening but many still cannot make a decision because of the lack of information.

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Joy and disappointment

SQ 192 airplane of Singapore Airlines which flew from Singapore to Hanoi landed at Noi Bai Airport on March 15, carrying only 52 foreign travelers.

Mai Phuoc Dung, Vietnamese Ambassador to Singapore, spoke at a conference on reopening to foreign travelers held on March 15, 2022.

Dung said the number of Singaporeans and foreigners in Singapore who want to travel is high but are disappointed because the policies have not been set about the reopening. The information about visa waiver for citizens of 13 countries only came out on March 15, and medical guidance has not been released yet.

“There are many Singaporean businesspeople, investors and others who have been waiting for two years for opportunities to come back to Vietnam to work, seek investment opportunities, do business, and sight-see,” Dung said.

Taiwanese businesspeople also want to fly to Vietnam. According to Vu Tien Dung, Head of the Vietnam Economic and Culture Office in Taipei, Vietnam is an attractive destination for Taiwanese (1 million Taiwanese travelers visited Vietnam in 2019), including businesspeople.

Dung said the problem now is the country’s strict pandemic prevention and control regulations. Taiwanese returnees are required to quarantine for 10 days and self-monitor the next seven days. So Taiwanese hesitate to go abroad. However, Taiwanese businesses want to come to Vietnam to seek investment opportunities.

In 2021, investment from Taiwan decreased significantly, which was blamed on the strict regulations.

Travel demand is also high in other markets.

Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Nguyen Quoc Dung said a survey has found that 80 percent of polled people wanted to travel in the next six months. However, the US CDC has raised the pandemic level in Vietnam to level 4 and has recommended that American citizens not travel to Vietnam.

Meanwhile, a representative of Vietnam’s Embassy in France said 49 million French people travel a year, spending up to $60 billion, and 75% of them are willing to go to non-European countries and to Asia, including Vietnam.

Vietnamese Ambassador to India Pham Sanh Chau said the country has 25 million travelers and many want to go to Vietnam, especially after Indian billionaires organized their wedding ceremonies in Da Nang and Phu Quoc, and after Vietjet Air and Indigo opened non-stop air routes between the two countries.

Chau said many Indian businesses give bonuses to their workers with trips, so Vietnam’s travel firms can approach businesses instead of selling tours via agents.

Policies

The participants at the conference all pointed out that in order to attract foreign travelers, Vietnam needs to have a consistent and clear policy.

“A consistent and clear policy, implemented from central to local levels, widely publicized and notified to Vietnamese representative agencies in foreign countries, to air carriers and travel firms, is the thing needed. The policies must not change suddenly,” said Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Nguyen Quoc Dung.

Pham Thi Nguyen, head of the Marketing Division of Vietnam Airlines, said there should be clear regulations about the tourism reopening. The representative of the national air flag carrier said that Vietnam should remove the regulation on quarantine and simplify the testing process.

Tran Nguyen from Sun World said there needs to be clear medical regulations, so that tourism can recover as soon as possible. The 5K principle (in Vietnamese: Khau trang – facemask, Khu khuan – disinfection, Khoang cach – distance, Khong tu tap - no gathering, Khai bao y te - health declaration) should be changed into 2K (khau trang – protective masks, and khai bao y te – medical declaration).

She said the visa period should be extended to 30 days for citizens of counties with visa waivers.

Nguyen Tat Thanh, Vietnamese Ambassador to Australia, the fifth largest market with 500,000-600,000 travelers to Vietnam each year, said that entry procedures need to be as simple as possible. The tourism sector also needs to run advertisement and marketing campaigns in Australia.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan Vu Hong Nam said Japan has reopened its doors but not fully. People have to quarantine for three days after they return from Vietnam. The Japanese Government does not encourage traveling and gathering in crowds.

Noting that Japanese like traveling in groups and booking tours via travel firms, Nam suggested that the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) urge travel firms to approach partners to prepare long-term (2-3 month) plans. It is expected that many people will travel from June to August.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Mai Phuoc Dung thinks that Vietnam should apply entry procedures similar to Singapore, i.e., travelers just need to have negative testing results and do not need to quarantine.

He said the APEC Business Travel Card regime should be restored to facilitate businesspeople’s travel. 

Ngoc Ha

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No medical isolation requirements set for foreign arrivals

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