Việt Nam is considering fully reopening international tourism from the middle of next month, earlier than the previously proposed April target, with stringent movement restrictions imposed at the start of the pandemic set to be abolished.
This formed part of the discussions between seven ministries – the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ministry of Health, Foreign Affairs, Transport, Public Security and National Defence – on restarting travels and tourism activities in new normal held in Hà Nội on Tuesday, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam.
Tourism minister Nguyễn Văn Hùng stressed the reopening of tourism must take into account Việt Nam’s situations and lessons learned from other countries and regions.
Việt Nam’s own pilot vaccine passport tourism programme, which was launched late November last year, had welcomed in 9,000 foreign tourists as of February 10, 2022, in a safe manner while still ensuring they were left with good impressions of Việt Nam, he noted, and the ministry had agreed to let all eligible localities welcome the international tourists instead of just certain provinces.
With the proposal to lift the ban on foreign tourists, general disease prevention and control like wearing masks and keeping a safe distance will still be in effect.
Representatives of ministries present at the meeting agreed they would report to the Government on halting the restrictions on the issuance of visas for foreign tourists, and resume pre-pandemic visa policy, including e-visa issuance, unilateral visa exemption for eight countries and bilateral visa exemption for 88 countries/territories.
The current requirement for tourists to register closed-loop tours like in the pilot programme will also be lifted, with tourists only needing to satisfy the health ministry’s requirements.
Phan Trọng Lân, head of the preventive medicine department, under the health ministry, said children under 11 years old would not have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as Việt Nam itself had not started inoculation for this age group.
However, tourists from 12 years old and above must have received at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with the second dose administered not more than six months at the time of entry, or they have proof of COVID-19 recovery within six months that were issued by relevant authorities of the countries where they were treated, and that Việt Nam recognises.
Tourists would also need proof of negative COVID-19 tests before the flight into Việt Nam, valid within 24 hours with rapid antigen tests and 72 hours with RT-PCR tests.
They would be required to install Việt Nam’s COVID-19 app and the app would need to be on during their entire stay in the country.
For arrivals via air routes, all people with suspect COVID-19 symptoms must be tested for the virus right at the airport (rapid tests), while others can leave for their registered accommodation/hotels, self-quarantine for 24 hours and undergo a COVID-19 test.
Arrivals via roads can have their COVID-19 tests done at the border gates prior to entry.
The tourism ministry’s proposal to set the mandated COVID-19 insurance at US$10,000 to cover the costs of COVID-19 treatment when needed.
When a foreign tourist is found positive with coronavirus, accommodation/hotels must work with local health authorities to manage and ensure quarantine just like with Vietnamese citizens.
Deputy PM Vũ Đức Đam said after two years of the pandemic, Việt Nam’s economy and in particular the tourism sector, suffered many challenges.
In the spirit of flexible adaptation and safe, effective control of pandemic, each relevant ministry and sector must be urgent in their assigned role to reopen tourism in a safe manner, and soon submit their respective guidances related to tourism reopening and report to the Government on the matter.
Starting from today, Việt Nam has also lifted all pandemic-era restrictions on frequency and destinations of outbound and inbound flights. — VNS