Vietnam Expected to Resume International Commercial Flights in Early 2022

In the first phase, there will be four one-way flights per week with a total number of arrivals of up to 12,000.

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Vietnam is expected to resume international commercial flights in the first quarter of 2022. Passengers will be able to enter the country without pre-approval and go through standard immigration and medical procedures.

 The first commercial flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi was on October 11. HNT Photo: Khanh Huy

The Ministry of Transport has submitted a three-phase resumption plan for inbound tourism to seek approval from the Prime Minister. This plan was submitted on November 8.

Regular flights will be reinstated to safe markets such as China, Hong Kong (China), Japan, South Korea, Taiwan (China), Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, Australia, and other countries as determined by the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control. These flights will resume, ensuring adherence to all necessary entry restrictions and precautions.

The following 15 countries and territories have surpassed Vietnam in terms of fully vaccinated individuals and are currently trialing full-package international flights.

During the initial phase, there will be a total of four one-way flights per week for each destination, resulting in a maximum of 12,000 arrivals to Vietnam.

Passengers must adhere to the Ministry of Health guidelines, which state that full vaccination and a seven-day isolation period are mandatory. Individuals who have not completed their vaccination regimen must isolate for 14 days.

In the second phase, scheduled to commence from the second quarter of 2022, foreign visitors with vaccine passports will be exempt from mandatory quarantine requirements. Instead, they will be required to self-isolate for a period of 3-7 days, following the guidelines set forth by the Ministry of Health.

Effective immediately, individuals without vaccine passports will be required to undergo a 14-day concentrated isolation period. Additionally, each airline will be increasing the frequency of their weekly one-way flights to seven.

The pilot phase is built upon the evaluation of the outcomes from the initial phase and the results achieved in disease prevention.

The commencement of the final phase is scheduled for the third quarter of 2022, subject to passenger demand and an assessment of the outcomes from phase two as well as the prevailing circumstances related to Covid-19 prevention and control.

HSBC, in its Vietnam at A Glance report released on November 4, expressed its perspective on the pilot tourism plan. Although it acknowledges the positive aspect of Vietnam’s initial steps towards targeted re-openings, HSBC emphasizes that uncertainty remains prevalent during these pandemic times. Thus, the successful revival of tourism in Vietnam will hinge on various contributing factors.

According to the report, one must first consider the border regulations. This entails taking into account the border restrictions imposed by Vietnam, as well as the border controls implemented by countries to which travelers are headed.

The current absence of Chinese tourists indicates potential limitations to the anticipated immediate boost, as mainland China continues to enforce stringent border controls. These measures include a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine, followed by additional periods of home quarantine or self-monitoring, depending on the specific regulations implemented by the destination country.

The report highlights the significance of the evolution of the pandemic. Vietnam experienced a substantial decline of 70% in daily infections, down from a peak of 170,000 in mid-August. However, there are indications of a resurgence in Covid-19 cases in the country.

 Screenshot from HSBC’s Vietnam at A Glance

According to HSBC, the prevalence of Covid-19 cases remains concentrated in the southeast region, including Dong Nai, Binh Duong, and Ho Chi Minh City. It is important to note that these areas are not part of the tourist pilot program. Due to the ongoing risks associated with the virus, there is a potential for cautious attitudes among both tourists and local authorities.

Vietnam’s low vaccination rate, combined with a surge in infections, has become a concerning issue. Currently, only 22% of the population is fully vaccinated, putting the country behind its regional counterparts. To address this, Vietnam has accelerated its vaccination efforts, particularly in important tourist destinations and industrial centers. However, it is still uncertain how to balance domestic movements while minimizing the risk of virus transmission between these areas and the rest of the country.

Solutions for Tourism Reactivation

The Private Sector Development Research Board (IV Board) has recently put forward recommendations to kickstart safe tourism, drawing on the successful examples of various countries. These suggestions include organizing a dialogue session led by the Prime Minister to develop a comprehensive plan for the resumption of both domestic and international tourism.

The IV Board emphasizes the significance of a practical yet adaptable plan, as well as well-defined processes and stakeholder responsibilities, in order to promote efficient coordination and mitigate potential risks.

“The IV Board emphasizes the need for the plan to advocate for the business sector’s involvement in ensuring a feasible, safe, and effective reopening process.”

The Board has put forth a suggestion urging the Prime Minister to consider the inclusion of a medium and long-term loan program in the economic recovery support package for 2022-2023 specifically aimed at supporting hotel, aviation, tourism, and service businesses.

The proposal stated that the pandemic has significantly impacted businesses in various industries for more than a year and a half, particularly in terms of cash flow.

The Board emphasized the need for timely government support in order for tourism businesses and services to recover and achieve breakthroughs in the current limited resource environment. They also stressed the importance of creating a feasible plan for the gradual recovery of the tourism industry in the near future.