Vietnam News

Vietnam tourism officials consider Covid-19 vaccine passports

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The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism is working with relevant agencies on a proposal to welcome vaccinated foreign tourists back to the country.

Nguyen Trung Khanh, head of the administration, on Thursday said after working with relevant agencies, it would consult the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to report to the government on the possibility of vaccine passports, a certificate identifying those that have been inoculated against Covid-19.

The move came after many tourism experts suggested the government consider opening up to vaccinated foreign visitors from the third quarter in a similar vein to regional peers to revive the hard-hit tourism industry.

As the world started rolling out Covid-19 vaccine shots, inoculation certificates have emerged to identify those that have been vaccinated for cross-border travel.

China and Israel were the first to issue digital health certificates for travelers who had been vaccinated against Covid-19, also dubbed ‘vaccine passports.’

The U.S. and Britain are among countries currently considering issuing similar permits, while the E.U. is also working on its own vaccine ‘green pass’, allowing those who have had the jab to travel more freely within the region this summer.

Government Office chief Mai Tien Dung said Thursday the government has not yet considered easing pandemic prevention protocols for those that have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Those entering the country and holding ‘vaccine passports’ still have to undergo mandatory 14-day quarantine as per Health Ministry regulations, Dung noted.

Luong Hoai Nam, member of Vietnam’s Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), said the reopening of foreign tourism could “help lift the country’s status” as Vietnam could not wait until the Covid-19 pandemic ends to welcome international tourists back to the country.

Pham Duy Nghia, director of Viet Food Travel Company, which specializes in bringing foreign experts into the country, said vaccine passports could create a boost for the tourism industry when widely applied in future.

But he noted these passports could only be applied in the next three to four months when the global pandemic situation shows signs of abating and many people in the world have been inoculated with Covid-19 vaccines.

Nguyen Ngoc Toan, director of Images Travel Company that specializes in welcoming European visitors to Vietnam, suggested initially the country could consider opening up to business travelers from countries and territories in the region where Vietnam has close trade relations like Japan, South Korea or Singapore.

“Those who have been vaccinated should enter Vietnam without being quarantined. Neighboring countries such as Singapore and Thailand all have plans to welcome business travelers,” Toan added.

However, health experts in Vietnam proposed foreign passengers holding vaccine passports should still undergo 14-day quarantine in the absence of information on the potential risk of infection following two-dose inoculation.

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.

Vietnam has been gradually controling the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak that returned to the country on Jan. 28 after nearly two months and has spread to 13 localities, including major cities such Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

By Viet Tuan & Nguyen Quy – VnExpress.net – March 12, 2021 

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