Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Authority last week proposed launching pilot flights to transport foreign tourists to several tourist destinations like Phu Quoc, Khanh Hoa and Quang Ninh starting this quarter. Passengers would be quarantined at a designated hotel for seven days upon arrival in Vietnam.
In the first month, there would be one international flight per day, with around 4,000 to 6,000 foreign tourists allowed to visit the country. The frequency of flights would be increased to two per day in the coming months.
Dr Bui Doan Ne, secretary general of the Vietnam Aviation Business Association, said the plan would not be feasible with the seven-day centralized quarantine rule.
âNo foreign tourist would sacrifice seven days of vacation to be isolated in a hotel,â he said.
From 10 to 20 October, when certain domestic routes resumed as part of a test phase, the seat occupancy rate was only 30 to 50%. Several flights were nearly empty, forcing carriers to cancel flights and avoid losses. Strict quarantine regulations imposed by localities have been blamed.
After the quarantine requirement was relaxed, the number of domestic passengers increased sharply, Ne noted.
He also said Vietnam is committed to accepting “vaccine passports” from many countries and territories where the pandemic situation is under control. Therefore, with the key aviation and tourism markets, there was a need to exempt foreign passengers with vaccine passports from centralized quarantine, he argued.
Economist Ngo Tri Long said CAAV’s plan has yet to draw inspiration from the experiences of countries in the region like Thailand and Singapore in reopening aviation and tourism.
Aviation is an engine of economic development and tourism a key economic sector with a turnover of 35 billion dollars per year, he noted, adding that the quarantine rule would prevent foreign tourists from returning to the United States. Vietnam.
Only Vietnamese returnees or foreigners who have to enter the country to do business should agree to such quarantine regulations, Long said.
âA large number of fully vaccinated foreign tourists wish to return to Vietnam for their vacations. We must see this as a chance to revive the economy and create jobs for people.
Long proposed that international commercial flights resume in November and that fully vaccinated foreigners with a valid negative Covid certificate be exempt from the current quarantine rule.
A representative of the national airline Vietnam Airlines who declined to be named also proposed a quarantine exemption for fully vaccinated foreign tourists from “green areas” who are considered to be at low risk of Covid infection. .
If visitors are not fully immunized; or if they come from high-risk areas, they can be isolated in designated accommodation for seven days. If the test results are negative, they may be allowed to travel to Vietnam. Vietnamese citizens returning home, meanwhile, can monitor their health on their own at home and avoid being quarantined in hotels.
“If the quarantine period is too long, foreign tourists will not want to visit Vietnam. Instead, they will choose to go to Thailand and Singapore which offer easier entry,” said the representative of Vietnam. Airlines.
Many countries have reopened their doors and do not even require passengers to be fully vaccinated. All visitors need a negative PCR test result to be allowed entry.
Nguyen Tien Dat, managing director of Hanoi-based travel company AZA, said foreign tourists with vaccination passports can be isolated for one to two days at remote resorts in Nha Trang, Phu Quoc and Da Nang. . After showing negative results for Covid, they can travel to other places in the country, he proposed.
The Vietnamese government has announced tentative plans to reopen the doors to foreign tourists after more than two years of border closures.
Kien Giang, Khanh Hoa, Quang Nam, Da Nang and Quang Ninh, which are home to a number of tourist hot spots, will be allowed to welcome foreign tourists from November as part of the country’s roadmap to gradually resume the international tourism.
Under the current vaccination passport policy, even fully vaccinated visitors to Vietnam must undergo centralized quarantine for seven days.
Vietnam is currently accepting Covid-19 vaccine passports from 72 countries and territories, and is discussing the issue with 80 others, the Foreign Ministry said last week.
The nation closed its doors to foreign tourists and canceled all international flights in March last year to contain Covid, allowing only Vietnamese returnees and foreign experts and highly skilled workers to enter.
Vietnam saw a 79% year-over-year drop in foreign visitors in 2020 due to travel restrictions linked to the pandemic.
The country only welcomed 3.83 million foreign visitors against a record 18 million in 2019, according to official data.