Both Vietnam’s tourism officials and businesses said that specific regulations guiding the safety in the Covid-19 pandemic would be necessary once the country fully opens to tourism from March 15. 

 Foreign visitors to Hoi An Ancient Town, Quang Nam Province. Photo: Kinhtedothi

The Ministry of Health’s requirements to ensure medical safety for arrivals on entry are still hindrances for inbound tourism.

Nguyen Trung Khanh, General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) said it requires localities and tourism businesses to prioritize uniform compliance with regulations on pandemic prevention and control.

He stressed the need of having consistent policies for the fact that inconsistencies in procedures and regulations on safety and isolation remain rampant among localities.

William Haandrikman, General Manager of Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, has outlined four main factors that must be taken into account before the reopening to tourism, namely safety assurance, information transparency, staff training, and digital transformation.

The top priority, he said, is to comply with all conditions set forth by the State and localities, as well as cooperate with health authorities to promptly report and handle health-related problems and the pandemic situation when necessary.

Travel businesses need to provide digital solutions, transparent information and complete service quality so as to ensure a consistent inflow of tourists to Vietnam, Haandrikman said.

Meanwhile, some businesses said the conditions for welcoming visitors have not been agreed by relevant ministries and agencies, and an official document on the matter has not been issued, making it difficult for them to welcome guests.

“This has made us nervous as all plans are ready, air tickets have been purchased, plans to sell tours abroad have been implemented, and foreign partners have also promoted their work in Vietnam,” Haandrikman said, adding the 24- or 72-hour medical isolation for international tourists will incur a tremendous cost for them, thus it may cause Vietnam tourism to lose market opportunities.

Experts, travel businesses and travel agencies agreed this is the golden time for Vietnam’s tourism to recover strongly and “take off” after two years of “frozen travel activities” because of Covid-19. As many countries around the world are actively opening up to tourism, if Vietnam tightens conditions for entry, it will miss a golden opportunity, they said.

Ready to welcome visitors

Travel businesses in Hoi An Ancient Town, in collaboration with tourism facilities in Danang and Quang Nam Province, are preparing to welcome a group of 40 Thai tour operators to Danang on March 27, ahead of the arrival of many groups of foreign tourists in the following days. Currently, many international groups have also booked tours to Vietnam’s central region from April 1.

Nguyen Son Thuy, Vice Chairman of Quang Nam Tourism Association, revealed the latest information about his association’s plan, adding that since Tet holiday, tourist attractions in the central region have begun to reopen, preparing to welcome visitors. The hotels here are launching attractive promotional packages, hiring laborers, and organizing on-site training. 

“All of the businesses are ready to resume operation,” Thuy said.

Currently, hospitality businesses and tour operators in the central province and other localities are expecting the Government and relevant ministries to issue written guidelines on safe tourism on the opening day of inbound travel (March 15).

In the latest move, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has completed the plan to resume tourism activities from March 15, via air, road, sea, and railway at all border gates.

Google’s analytical data tracking travel trends shows that, since January 1, 2022, the number of foreigners searching for information about flights to Vietnam increased by 425% over the same period in 2021. Travelers from the US, Australia, Russia, France, Germany, Japan, India, UK, and Canada had the most searches for Vietnam tourism information.

“Vietnam is also one of the 10 countries with the highest rate of Covid-19 vaccination in the world. This is one of the key factors for Vietnam to confidently reopen flights to countries and territories and to restore inbound tourism,” Tran Thi Lan Anh, General Secretary of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry noted.