For the first time since mid-2020, Vietnam is gradually reopening the tourism sector to welcome foreign visitors. According to the newspaper Nguoi Lao Dong, there were already two flights with foreign tourists from South Korea and Japan. They successfully landed in the Southcentral coastal province of Khanh Hoa.
Vietnam joined the neighbouring Asian countries as the most recent nation to open its borders. Fully vaccinated travellers can visit without the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Upon arrival, foreign visitors will need a COVID-19 RT-PCR test. They must also provide proof of a negative test at least 72 hours before departure and full vaccination not less than 14 days before the flight.
If the test is positive, they’ll need isolation at a quarantine facility and undergo treatment under strict measures.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism also clarified that if visitors had contracted COVID-19 before, they should have a recovery certificate. The issue date should be at least six months before the flight.
Visitors also need medical or travel insurance that includes COVID-19 treatment, with a minimum liability of $50,000.
This decision followed the move by Thailand to welcome tourists to some areas, such as the Phuket Island in the south. The next move was opening more prominent places like Bangkok late last year.
The Vietnamese government approved international flights to resume. They can operate between Vietnam and select destinations from 1st January 2022. The first nine destinations to get approval were:
|Tokyo||Seoul||San Francisco or Los Angeles|
|Taipei||Beijing or Guangzhou||Singapore|
Vietnam had to impose strict border control measures at the onset of the pandemic to prevent the spread and control infections. Although the move was successful initially, the tourism industry took a significant hit.
Previously, the tourism sector generated about 10%- 12% of the GDP, equivalent to $31 billion of revenue from 18 million foreign visitors. In 2020 and 2021, the revenue was at an all-time low, with only about 3.8 million foreign visitors.
The country is increasing the COVID-19 vaccination rates from only 13% to catch up with other Asian countries.
Vietnam’s Reopening Strategy
Vietnam’s strategy is to welcome fully vaccinated foreign visitors in three phases. It starts with specific areas such as Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, Da Nang, Halong Bay, Dalat, and Hoi An. Tourists visited these areas on packaged tours from 20th November last year.
The second phase starts from January 2022, where more areas will be open to visitors. By June or July 2022, the expectation is that the country will be fully open.
Previously, domestic air passengers required full vaccination to travel. The Transport Ministry lifted this restriction from 21st October last year.
However, passengers from areas under lock-down or high-risk areas still need a negative COVID-19 test. The test should be at least 72 hours before their flight.
Passengers coming from other areas require a valid COVID-19 recovery certificate. They should also have proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test.
Vietnam also issued temporary recognition of COVID-19 vaccine certificates from 72 countries. Fully vaccinated visitors from certain countries can visit Vietnam. They are
- The US
- The UK
- South Korea, and
Through a statement, the government affirmed that the country is only open when it’s truly safe. He noted that the country is moving step by step, cautiously but flexibly adapting to real situations of the pandemic.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) issued a notification that border reopening will be in two phases.
They also plan to lift the quarantine requirement for all fully-vaccinated foreign visitors. The target is full reopening the country by July 2022. Instead of quarantine, the ministry suggested COVID-19 testing before departure and after arrival.
The first phase involves reopening the border to specific cities. These cities have essential political and economic relationships with Vietnam. Some of them include Los Angeles, Beijing, Singapore, and Bangkok.
The CAAV stated that the cities have significant foreign investments in Vietnam. They also have a very high demand for repatriation due to the many Vietnamese nationals living, studying, and working in the diaspora.
The Transport Ministry also proposed allowing international flights through Vietnam’s primary gateways. During the first phase, the airlines can facilitate four weekly flights through Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi with about 14,000 passengers.
The second phase will run from January this year or one month after launching the first phase. Flights from more cities such as Frankfurt, Moscow, and Kuala Lumpur can land in Vietnam if the passengers abide by the set requirements.
More Vietnamese airports such as Phu Quoc will be able to receive international flights during the second phase.
The CAAV plans to permit airlines to operate up to seven flights on every route each week, bringing in more than 40,000 visitors.
However, the Transport Ministry and the CAAV could not disclose further reopening plans beyond January. The expectation is that the relevant authorities will review and evaluate the situation with time. They will then decide whether or not to restore operation levels to the way they were before the pandemic.
Fully-vaccinated Visitors are Already Exploring Vietnam
After almost two years of travel restrictions, over 200 foreign visitors landed on Phu Quoc last November.
The tourists enjoyed their holidays and vacations in various hotels without the two-week quarantine. After testing negative, they used vaccination certificates to attend activities and recreational events.
The chairman of Vietnam’s Administration of Tourism, Nguyen Trung Khanh, received the charter flight at the airport. He explained that the program is an effort to rejuvenate the country’s tourism industry. Reopening the borders is a way to develop the economy step by step to adapt to the new normal.
The Ministry of Health confirmed that 99% of adults living in Phu Quoc have full vaccination. This includes all staff members working in the service industry.
There’s also a plan to vaccinate children between the age of 12 and 17 before the end of 2021.