HÀ NỘI — The successful vaccination campaign and the removal of restrictions on international flights has created a golden opportunity for Việt Nam to reopen the tourism sector, which is expected to create a significant impetus to accelerate post-pandemic economic recovery, experts said.
General Director of the Việt Nam National Administration of Tourism Nguyễn Trùng Khánh said at a forum on Friday that the tourism industry, which was badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, now has a great opportunity to quickly restart and recover in the new normal.
“Never in the last six decades has Việt Nam’s tourism industry suffered such heavy damage as the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Khánh said, adding that it might take at least five years to recover.
After two years of fighting against the pandemic, many countries gradually adjusted their stance on fighting the virus, from zero cases to living alongside COVID-19 and bringing life back to normal, Khánh said.
Countries in the region, such as Singapore and Thailand, are receiving international tourists while the European Union is open for intra-regional travel and allows citizens from a third country to enter with conditions.
“The successful national vaccination campaign together with the removal of restrictions on international flights from February 15 has provided favourable conditions to restart tourism and grab opportunities,” he said.
The number of domestic tourists increased considerably in recent months. The number of domestic tourists in February totalled 9.6 million, up by 380 per cent against the same period last year. The tourism revenue in the month was estimated at VNĐ41.38 trillion, up by 313 per cent.
Analytical data from the Google Destination Insights showed that the number of international searches for Việt Nam’s aviation and tourism information skyrocketed from December 2021 and remained at a very high level. On January 21 searches were 425 per cent higher and on February 3 they were 374 per cent higher than the same time one year ago.
Khánh said that the increase in domestic tourist numbers shows that safe tourism is an appropriate direction and also reflected the readiness for the reopening of tourism.
The increase in international searches about travelling to Việt Nam from the beginning of 2022 was a positive signal for the rapid and strong recovery of the tourism industry, creating favourable momentum for the plan of opening up international tourism, he added.
According to Trần Thị Lan Anh, General Secretary of the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, tourism demand had been suppressed during the past two years as the world applied the most extreme isolation measures.
The world was gradually opening up and it’s time for tourism to grab that opportunity, she said.
“The current situation requires tourism not only to be friendly but also to be safe for tourists and residents,” Anh said.
Anh said how to open tourism safely, so as not to make tourists hesitate about procedures to ensure the health and safety of residents, was the biggest concern of enterprises, as the World Health Organization warned that the COVID-19 pandemic will not end this year.
Việt Nam was getting ready for reopening tourism from tomorrow as approved by the Government, Khánh said, stressing that the decisive factors for the success were ensuring safety against the virus, the resumption of international and domestic flights, creating favourable conditions for international tourists to Việt Nam and recognising vaccine passports.
Khánh said that the tourism ministry would cooperate with relevant ministries and organisations to negotiate with other countries about the recognition of Việt Nam’s vaccine passports.
The focus must also be placed on improving tourism products and services quality, which is the key to increasing the competitiveness of Việt Nam’s tourism industry, Khánh said.
He pointed out that after two years of being ravaged by COVID-19, most firms were falling into difficulty and human resources for tourism declined. He urged tourism enterprises to pay attention to developing new products, improving services quality and building human resources.
Promotion activities must also be enhanced to attract arrivals to Việt Nam with the campaign “Live fully in Vietnam” which was launched late last year.
Support policies in terms of taxes and fees must be effective at least to the end of 2023 to really benefit firms, he said.
Nguyễn Nguyệt Vân Khanh, deputy director of Vietravel Marketing Department, said that countries in the region were rushing to open their doors to international tourists, adding that Việt Nam should hurry up to not to miss this golden opportunity.
Trần Đoàn Thế Duy, Vietravel’s general director, said that enterprises were waiting for detailed guidelines on medical isolation as well as the visa-fee policy.
Việt Nam is expected to attract five million international tourist arrivals this year. Last year, Việt Nam received only 3,800 international tourists due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the tourism development programme in 2022-26 period proposed to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Việt Nam targeted to attract 8-9 million tourist arrivals in 2023, equivalent to half of 2017 and 16 million in 2026. — VNS