Implementing the second phase of a pilot program on foreign travelers from December 15, 2021 and allowing Vietnamese to travel abroad are among the proposals from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST).
Vietnam has been receiving foreign travelers under a pilot program since late November.
Vietnam currently recognises vaccination certificates or vaccine passports of 78 countries and territories that were officially introduced MOFA.
The number of foreign travelers to Vietnam was 1,179 as of December 9, 2021. Of these, 204 travelers came to Phu Quoc (Kien Giang), 159 to Quang Nam and 816 to Khanh Hoa. Vietnam expects to receive 14,500 travelers by the end of the year (to Phu Quoc and Khanh Hoa, not including Quang Nam. Meanwhile, Da Nang and Quang Ninh plan to begin receiving travelers in January 2022.Meanwhile, Da Nang and Quang Ninh plans to begin receiving travelers in January 2022.
MCST said the reception of foreign travelers strictly observes the 5K principle and anti-pandemic measures. Vietnam vows to ensure ‘absolute safety’ for locals, foreign tourists when international tourism resumes. The service quality is high, which has had positive feedback from foreign travelers.
However, there are problems.
MCST said the required entry procedures remain troublesome to foreign travelers. Under current regulations, businesses that receive travelers have to send documents to the Immigration Department asking the agency to approve the lists of foreign travelers to enter Vietnam.
This makes it more difficult to attract travelers from key markets which enjoy visa waivers such as South Korea, Japan and Russia. Travelers hesitate to choose destinations if they have to follow complicated procedures.
At present, Vietnam only receives foreign travelers who come on chartered flights, and has closed the door to travelers by sea or road, which means that cruise ships are barred. More than 30 countries and territories have resumed the reception of these travelers while international cruise lines are ready to receive travelers during the 2021 winter holiday.
The ministry said it’s necessary to create favorable conditions to receive Vietnamese overseas. There is a high demand to return to celebrate Tet.
Regarding destinations, it’s expected that more localities will be allowed to receive foreign travelers in the second phase of the pilot program. Binh Dinh and HCM City have sent documents to the Prime Minister and MCST, asking for permission to receive foreign travelers.
HCMC wants to begin receiving travelers beginning in December 2021 and receive foreign travelers in 2022, with no quarantine required after entry.
Binh Dinh wants to receive foreign travelers in the second phase (January 2022) to Phuong Mai Peninsula, Nhon Chau Island in Quy Nhon City, Cat Tien Town in Phu Cat district and the city’s central area under a city tour.
Recovering outbound tourism
Regarding resumption of outbound tours, MCST said that fully vaccinated Vietnamese and foreigners in Vietnam still find it difficult to travel abroad, because only a few countries accept Vietnam’s certificates of vaccination. Some countries require certificates to be legalized by a consular office to be eligible for use.
Meanwhile, vaccination certificates in Vietnam don’t follow the standard form designed by the Ministry of Health, and some certificate forms are written in Vietnamese language only. Some countries only accept certain vaccines, and not all the vaccines Vietnam has been using.
In order to resume outbound tourism, state agencies need to negotiate with other countries for recognition of Vietnam’s vaccine passport.
To attract foreign travelers, MCST has proposed that the PM accept the resumption of the visa waiver applied to some countries pre-pandemic. It also suggested starting the second phase of the pilot program on December 15, 2021.
Vietnamese who live, study and work in other countries with a Vietnamese passport, and Vietnamese people with green cards in the US, and residence cards in some countries should be allowed to participate in the program.
Other solutions proposed include receiving travelers who come by sea, land and commercial flights; allowing outbound tours to markets which accept Vietnamese travelers; and adding Binh Dinh and HCM C ityto the list of localities receiving foreign travelers.
MCST has urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to negotiate with other countries and territories to accelerate the mutual recognition of vaccine passports, and has asked MOH to allow tourists to use local services after a 3-day package tour and if they have a negative PCR test result on the third day of the tour.
Also, Vietnam needs to consider the situation of other countries (vaccination coverage, number of infections and other factors) to gradually loosen the requirement for quarantine applied to people from other countries.
Eight travel firms have been licensed by the state management agencies to receive foreign travelers in the first program phase, including Marketing Highland, Vietnam Travelmart, Nhat Minh Tourism, Vietnam Railways Trade Union Tourist Company Ltd, Vijasun, Vietravel, Lux Group and Anex Vietnam.