Adapting Vietnam’s Tourism to the Post-Pandemic Era

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam stated that the tourism sector should take prompt and firm steps to resume operations safely

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During a working session held on the morning of October 14th with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism regarding the plan to restart tourism in the near future, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam stressed the importance of the sector taking immediate and decisive actions to resume operations in a secure manner.

Six Key Initiatives to Drive Demand and Revitalize the Tourism Industry

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam spoke at the working session. Photo: VGP

According to Nguyen Trung Khanh, the General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the tourism industry has suffered significant losses due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic over the past two years. In 2020, the number of foreign arrivals dropped by 80% to 3.7 million compared to the previous year. Domestic visits also decreased by 34% to 56 million, while the total tourism revenue plummeted by 59% to VND 312,200 billion.

In the first nine months of 2021, domestic arrivals experienced a significant decline of 16%, totaling 31.5 million visitors. The total revenue for the tourism industry amounted to approximately VND 137,000 billion, reflecting a decline of 42% compared to the same period in 2020. As a result, a considerable number of tour operators, accounting for over 30% of the industry, have submitted requests to withdraw from the sector. Currently, there are only 2,000 active enterprises holding inbound tourism licenses, many of which have either suspended operations or permanently closed down. Furthermore, around 90% of tourist accommodation establishments, contributing to 46% of the industry’s revenue, remain closed, except for those repurposed to serve as Covid-19 medical isolation facilities.

The Director General has outlined a comprehensive plan to stimulate demand and revive the travel industry, which encompasses six core areas of focus. These tasks include ensuring the safety of both destinations and tourists, intensifying efforts in tourism promotion and marketing, developing a wide range of diversified products to cater to evolving market trends, expediting the digital transformation process within the industry, facilitating businesses in their revival of tourism activities, and supporting the development of human resources to meet the demands of tourism recovery.

Hoi An Ancient Town, Quang Nam Province. Photo: Booking.com

Currently, several localities in Vietnam are considering reopening to international tourism. In addition to Phu Quoc in Kien Giang Province, popular destinations such as Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa Province, Quang Nam, Da Nang, and Quang Ninh are all working on plans to resume welcoming international visitors.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has submitted a reopening schedule to the Government, outlining plans for the resumption of international travel to various destinations in Vietnam. According to the schedule, Phu Quoc and Nha Trang will be the first to reopen to international air travelers on a trial basis in November 2021. Following this, other destinations such as Quang Ninh, Da Nang, and Quang Nam will reopen in December 2021, provided they meet the necessary requirements. Finally, if pandemic prevention and control measures are effectively implemented, the travel ban on international visitors will be lifted in the second quarter of 2022. These efforts aim to restore tourism to Vietnam while prioritizing the health and safety of both locals and visitors.

We have proposed preferential policies for international visitors, including visa exemption and visa fee exemption for entry into Vietnam. Additionally, we have requested relevant bodies to discuss measures to warmly welcome overseas Vietnamese.

Regarding domestic tourism, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism is in the process of finalizing guidelines for the reactivation of domestic tourism at four different levels, in accordance with the government’s directive on safely and effectively managing the Covid-19 pandemic.

The West Lake in Hanoi. Photo: Khanh Huy

The Ministry recognizes the ongoing challenges in resuming domestic travel, primarily due to the varying Covid-19 vaccination rates across different areas. To address this issue, it is deemed imperative to ensure that a minimum of 70% of individuals aged 18 and above, along with tourism personnel in the respective destinations, are fully vaccinated with two doses.

Localities should ensure that the medical infrastructure and human resources meet the necessary conditions. There should be close coordination between relevant entities to ensure the safe arrival of guests. Additionally, there should be unified regulations at the national level regarding vaccination certificates and travel safety criteria, among other things.

Reviving the tourism industry gradually and securely

During the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam highlighted the importance of meeting certain prerequisites before implementing plans to gradually resume tourism. These prerequisites include the availability of vaccines, therapeutic drugs, and biological products for testing, as well as improved public awareness of pandemic prevention and control.

The terrace rice fields in Sapa Town, Lao Cai Province. Photo: Booking.com

The Deputy Prime Minister has requested the ministry to expediently release comprehensive guidelines for the safe and efficient management of cultural, sports, and tourism activities amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. These guidelines should be both specific and detailed, while tourism associations are encouraged to develop their own safety regulations in alignment with the Ministry’s guidelines.

The Deputy Prime Minister instructed the Ministry of Transport to promptly release updated guidelines for road, rail, and air transport. These guidelines will provide detailed instructions for travelers participating in tours. Strict adherence to the 5K rules, including mask-wearing and maintaining a safe distance between individuals, is mandatory for travel, accommodation, services, meals, and other activities.

In relation to the pilot program for accommodating international tourists, the Ministry, in collaboration with tourism associations, has been directed to promptly engage with Kien Giang and Khanh Hoa provinces to facilitate discussions with relevant stakeholders, develop concrete proposals, and provide regular updates to the Prime Minister on any challenges encountered.

The Deputy Prime Minister has called for the tourism industry, along with other economic sectors, to take swift and decisive actions in order to safely resume operations.