Tourism experts proposed Vietnam’s tourism industry prepare to welcome vaccinated foreign visitors back to the country from the third quarter in a similar vein to regional peers.
Nguyen Huu Tho, chairman of Vietnam Tourism Association (VTA), said Vietnam has been one of the most successful countries in containing Covid-19 outbreaks, creating favorable conditions for the tourism industry to open up to international markets since the beginning of the third quarter.
He cited Thailand, which plans to open its doors to foreign tourists already vaccinated against the coronavirus from July 1, and Singapore, which is ready to do the same.
"Vietnam should prepare to receive international visitors from July to help the heavily-hit tourism industry recover as 95 percent of inbound travel firms have suspended operation," Tho told a meeting Wednesday.
"Promoting domestic tourism could bring in revenue but cannot save the tourism industry. The roadmap to opening up the international market is the only solution," he added.
Nguyen Thi Khanh, chairwoman of Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Association, said it is necessary to prepare a set of criteria for picking up foreign passengers as soon as possible, as many countries do not require isolation of vaccinated tourists or those carrying Covid-19 negative certificates.
"The industry should aim at international markets that have responded effectively to the pandemic."
Vu The Binh, VTA deputy chairman, said opening of international markets could meet with difficulties and public opposition for fears of causing further Covid-19 outbreaks.
However, Binh affirmed Vietnam should avoid lagging behind other economies that recognize vaccine passports, proving a bearer's Covid-19 vaccination status.
Vietnam has been struggling with its latest Covid-19 outbreak that began on Jan. 28 after a 55-day clean streak, with 879 community transmissions recorded. So far, the outbreak situation in the country is basically under control, with many localities resuming non-essential services.
While the production of domestic vaccines is underway, the government has speeded up foreign procurement to inoculate prioritized groups.
Vietnam recorded a 79 percent decline year-on-year in the number of foreign visitors in 2020 due to travel restrictions amid the pandemic as the country received 3.83 million foreign tourists against a record 18 million in 2019, according to official data.
The government has closed national borders and canceled all international flights since March 25 with only Vietnamese repatriates, foreign experts and highly-skilled workers allowed in with stringent conditions.
The government recently green-lighted the resumption of commercial flights to seven Asian destinations, mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, but Vietnamese carriers are still not allowed to operate inbound flights.