With careful preparation for resumption, Vietnam’s aviation and tourism can reach new markets and new customers, according to leaders from regulatory bodies and experts.

The lifting of restrictions on international flights from February 15 is considered to be helpful for the tourism industry to be competitive in the race to attract foreign travelers, local experts told a seminar “Vietnamese aviation reopens international flights: New dynamics, new opportunities” held on February 24 in the southern province of Binh Dinh.

 Local passengers at the launching ceremony of the Vietnam-Germany non-stop flights on February 25. Photo: Bamboo Airways

Reopening and removing barriers to catch up with the world

Speaking at the event, Bui Doan Ne, Vice Chairman of Vietnam Aviation Association said the Government’s decisions about reopeninginternational air routes and preparing for tourism resumption from March 15 have created favorable conditions for the aviation industry stay competitive in the provision of air services  to/from Vietnam.

However, Ne acknowledged that the move also poses great challenges for Vietnam’s aviation and tourism industries, especially ensuring the safety for passengers and the community in the complicated pandemic situation.

“Currently, the uphill task for Vietnam’s aviation industry now is to restore operations to the pre-pandemic level. Vietnam’s aviation authorities should reach agreement with foreign countries on testing and isolation regulations ,” he added.

 Luong Hoai Nam, Vice Chairman of Gotadi Travel Technologies JSC, emphasized that Vietnam should not consider Covid-19 as a barrier to limit opening. Instead, the Government should make it easier to welcome international travelersby immediately restoring the pre-pandemic visa policy.

In addition to visa waiver for tourists from 13 countries, he suggested the policy should be applied to the entire EU, Australia, and New Zealand. Travelers from the US and China should be granted long-stay visa of 5 to 10 years. “Visa waiver is the key for Vietnam to stay competitive with international rivals,” he said.

Nam added, before Covid-19, Singapore spent US$5-6 million on tourism promotion, Vietnam also need a good promotion policy to increase the competitiveness of the tourism industry. “In particular, the pandemic obscures the fact that our airports are overloaded and if there is no solution, the issue will continue to be the barrier in the process of restoring tourism and aviation,” he said.

Ne emphasized the need to continue investing in infrastructure to anticipate the recovery as well as have policies to attract tourism and support airlines. “Vietnam should remove barriers to soon regain its position as one of the five countries with the fastest growing aviation industry in the world before the pandemic,” he noted.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) forecast, in the average scenario, the Vietnamese aviation market will receive 42-43 million passengers in 2022, equivalent to 50% of the 2019 total.  Bui Minh Dang, Deputy Head of the Air Transport Department under the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, said this number is still quite impressive incomparasion with the past two years. Among the 43 million arrivals, there will be about eight million international passengers, including six million tourists.

He added, currently, Vietnamese airlines have reopened international commercial flights to 20 countries and territories.

“The authority has also received many requests from international partners to reopen flights to the central region of Vietnam and that is a good sign to restore tourism activities,” he said, adding the foreign air carriers only focus on two biggest cities Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, while tourist destinations such as Quy Nhon, Phu Quoc, Danang, and Van Don are still unexploited.

At a related conference on February 24, Pham Binh Minh, Permanent Deputy Prime Minister, who is Chairman of the National Civil Aviation Security Committee, agreed with the Ministry of Transport’s proposal on the establishment of an aviation security company in line with legal regulations in order to ensure security and safety for airports.

In 2022, together with the socio-economic recovery program, aviation companies are tasked with ensuring aviation security when flight frequency is expected to surge. The Deputy Prime Minister asked the Ministry of Transport to amend the Law on Aviation and build aviation culture and security, improve capacity and professional responsibilities to adapt to the new situation.