This image shows a Russian tourist group arriving in Khanh Hoa Province, south-central Vietnam, in late December 2021. Photo: Khanh Hoa Province Department of Tourism
The Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has proposed that the national government fully reopen international tourism at the end of next month, after nearly two years of closure due to COVID-19 impacts.
It is the appropriate time for international tourism to resume since March 31, when the country is expected to complete third-dose COVID-19 vaccination for its adult population, the ministry said in its recent proposition to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.
Any later tourism resumption will lessen the attractiveness of Vietnam’s tourism to international travelers as many other regional countries are preparing to open up their borders again.
The period between now and March 31 is enough for agencies concerned to adjust current regulations and issue new rules on tourism resumption, the ministry said.
As Vietnam will host the 31st Southeast Asian Games in May, reopening borders will help attract more visitors from other ASEAN countries with high inoculation rates.
Tourism businesses should initially focus on traditional markets with high COVID-19 safety levels such as South Korea, Japan, mainland China, Taiwan, ASEAN, the U.S., Canada, Australia, the UK, France, and Germany, the ministry advised.
It also recommended that Vietnam should receive visitors coming by road and sea besides air passengers.
International travelers should be required to meet only three conditions upon their arrival in Vietnam, the ministry suggested.
Firstly, they must get full COVID-19 vaccination, with the second dose administered at least 14 days and no longer than 12 months before their entry date, or have certificates of recovery from COVID-19 within six months prior to their time of entry.
There should be additional rules intended for children and people who have not been fully inoculated.
Secondly, they are to be required to have a negative RT-PCR test certificate within 72 hours of departure.
Lastly, foreign visitors must have health insurance that covers COVID-19 treatment at a minimum of US$50,000.
The ministry also proposed all tourism businesses that meet related requirements are allowed to receive international guests, not just some selected firms as planned before.
From now until March 30, the pilot tourism reopening program that has been conducted in several localities since late 2021 will continue as necessary preparations for the proposed full resumption, the ministry said.
Previously, the Vietnam Tourism Association, the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board, and the National Private Economic Development Research Board recommended an earlier date, February 1, for tourism reopening.
To facilitate foreigners’ entry into Vietnam, the Southeast Asian country has so far recognized ‘vaccine passports’ or full vaccination certificates of 79 countries and territories, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As of Thursday, the country, whose population is around 98 million, had given 79,080,702 first COVID-19 vaccine doses to people nationwide, while the numbers of second and third shots were 74,187,590 and 28,390,799, respectively, the Ministry of Health reported.
Health workers have administered the first vaccine shots to all eligible adults, and 52 out of 63 provinces and cities have reached a second-dose vaccination rate of over 90 percent.
Meanwhile, 8,446,574 first doses and 7,805,785 second shots have been provided to children aged 12 to 17.
Since erupting in Vietnam in early 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has caused 2,304,095 infections, with 2,093,947 recoveries and 38,063 fatalities, the health ministry said.