Travel agencies and tourism experts say it would be difficult to welcome foreign tourists again if the health ministry tightens quarantine and testing requirements.
They are concerned about the response of the Ministry of Health to a draft plan prepared by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on the reopening of international tourism from March 15.
The Ministry of Health recommended foreign tourists to stay in their accommodation for 72 hours after arriving in Vietnam; the first 24 hours being mandatory. They would be tested for Covid twice on the first and third day after arrival. In case tourists want to go to other places after one day, they should be tested three times in as many days.
Additionally, all tourists should produce a negative PCR test result obtained within 72 hours of departure, instead of rapid antigen test results as proposed by the Ministry of Tourism.
Unvaccinated children under 12 would not be allowed to leave their accommodation until they provide negative Covid test results for seven consecutive days, the health ministry has suggested.
Nguyen Tien Dat, managing director of Hanoi-based tour operator AZA Travel, told VnExpress International that the Health Ministry’s latest responses were “illogical and inconsistent” and run counter to the government’s new strategy of living in safe with the pandemic.
“With less than two weeks until March 15, when the country will fully reopen inbound tourism, inconsistent regulations from the Ministry of Health will put the tourism industry in a difficult situation,” he said.
“The country has lifted all barriers for domestic tourists during the new normal, so why aren’t we treating foreign and domestic tourists the same?” he wondered.
“Vietnam is registering more than 100,000 cases a day and the chance of international visitors catching Covid from Vietnamese is much higher than their chances of infecting us,” he added.
Dat said Asian tourists always travel for four to five days and “if we ask them to stay at their accommodation facility for three days, they will never come to Vietnam.”
Pham Ha, CEO of Lux Group, said he was disappointed with the responses from the Ministry of Health as Vietnam was already slow to reopen international tourism compared to countries in the region and “we are losing opportunities for recovery with such inconsistent regulations. …”
With these regulations, “it would be difficult to successfully reopen inbound tourism. I only see a dark picture before my eyes,” he said.
Other Southeast Asian countries have reopened their borders to foreign tourists and lifted almost all travel restrictions, while Vietnam’s visa policy and entry requirements have yet to be clear and consistent, a- he added.
Ha said many European tourists from the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Turkey are eager to return to Vietnam in May, but his company is unsure how to work with them as policies remain. blurry.
A representative of an HCMC-based tour operator who wished to remain anonymous said he was shocked by the Department of Health’s responses. The tourism industry doesn’t have much time to prepare for reopening with such regulations, he said.
“No tourists will come to Vietnam to stay in hotels for three days. The tourism industry will not be able to return if such strict testing and quarantine requirements remain in place,” he said.
Cao Tri Dung, chairman of the Da Nang Tourism Association, said the recommendations from the Ministry of Health pose new challenges for the tourism industry after being the hardest hit by the pandemic in the past two years.
“If tourism barriers are not removed, reopening would be impossible,” Dung said, adding that the tourism industry was awaiting a final decision from Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.
The government announced that from March 15, Vietnam will fully reopen inbound tourism, with foreign tourists allowed to visit the country without booking tour packages.
Cambodians and travelers from Cambodia to Vietnam are also affected by the decision, as with the increase in flights to 10 per week, more travelers have come to Vietnam for a direct visit as tourists or to visit Vietnam before. to connect to another destination. VNExpress/Khmer Times