The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MoCST) has proposed eliminating the PCR test requirement and conduct only rapid antigen tests for fully vaccinated foreign visitors, as the country plans to welcome foreign tourists back from March 15.
|Tourists staying at Cam Ranh, Khanh Hoa in January 2021 under the pilot program to welcome international guests. Photo: Lao Dong newspaper
According to VNA, under the ministry’s latest proposal now being circulated for opinions of relevant agencies, the country will receive foreign visitors travelling to Vietnam by land and sea instead of just by air during the period of pilot re-opening of tourism.
Regarding conditions for entry, the proposal suggests that travellers of age 12 and above must have certificates of full vaccination against Covid-19 or recovery from the disease.
A negative test result is compulsory with both results of quick tests taken within 24 hours prior to departure or RT-PCR tests within 72 hours before departure acceptable.
After entry, those arriving by air will take rapid tests at their accommodations with results to be returned within 24 hours. Meanwhile, those arriving by land or sea are required to take rapid tests at the border gates.
Children under 12 and senior citizens over 65 who have yet to receive Covid-19 jabs can enter Vietnam but must be accompanied by their guardians and purchase health insurance. If testing negative, they can travel freely inside the country.
The MoCST also proposed visa exemption like before Covid-19 broke out in 2020, with an aim to attract foreign tourists.
Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Tourism on Feb. 18 also publicised a list of hotels eligible to welcome foreign tourists arriving in the city in the coming time, included InterContinential Saigon, Liberty Central Saigon Center and Silverland Sakyo in district 1; Ramana Saigon in district 3 and Windsor Plaza Hotel in district 5.
The hotels are chosen based on the basis of voluntary registration.
Vietnam will fully reopen tourism and lift travel restrictions from March 15. It aims to serve 65 million visitors, including 5 million foreigners this year.
The country welcomed 40 million domestic tourists in 2021, together with 3,800 foreigners within the framework of the pilot vaccine passport programme.
Vietnam has accepted vaccination certificates or vaccine passports of 79 countries and territories, which were officially sent to the foreign ministry.
Vietnam recorded 46,880 new Covid-19 infections, including 19 imported cases, on Feb. 21.
The new cases bring the country’s tally to 2,834,373, with 39,605 deaths and 2,294,669 recoveries since the start of the pandemic.
Nearly 191.7 million doses of vaccine have been administered as of February 21, of which more than 75.4 million people have been fully inoculated.
As of Feb. 16, a total of 14 countries and territories had recognised Vietnam’s vaccine passport. They are Japan, the US, the UK, Australia, India, Belarus, Cambodia, the Philippines, Palestine, Maldives, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Turkey.
This makes the conditions for going abroad also limited, leading to an imbalance in the entry and exit of international flights.
“Only when the balance of arrivals and departures can be achieved will the cost of flights be reduced and the cost of travel companies will be reduced,” said Chairman of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism Nguyen Trung Khanh.
Reopening is an extremely competitive process, requiring countries to prepare carefully, Khanh added. In the coming time, the tourism industry will continue to implement strong promotion and communication programs on digital platforms; participate in major international tourism fairs held in key markets with Vietnam.
Currently, the MoCST has been working with major international media groups to promote Vietnam’s tourism. Tourists staying at Cam Ranh, Khanh Hoa in January 2021 under the pilot program to welcome international visitors to Vietnam.