Vietnam’s HCMC is set to reopen its doors to fully vaccinated international tourists in three phases this December, instead of next year as earlier planned.
Battered by a big spike in Covid-19 cases in the fourth wave since late April, the city has basically put the pandemic under control. Latest data shows the city has detected more than 430,000 coronavirus infections due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.
The spread of the virus has slowed thanks to the city’s high vaccination rate and restrictive measures. Therefore, the city has put forward a draft plan to welcome back international tourists under the vaccine passport program.
In the plan, the city would exempt international tourists with a vaccine passport from mandatory quarantine.
In the first phase from December, it would pilot welcoming international travelers to the city in package tour programs using charter flights, international commercial flights, or ships.
In the second phase that begins from January next year, the city would allow all international travel agencies that meet the city’s Covid safety requirements to serve foreign visitors to HCMC on charter flights, scheduled international flights, or ships.
Tourists can travel to other destinations in the country after spending seven days in HCMC. The five pilot destinations outside HCMC are Kien Giang, Nha Trang, Danang, Quang Nam, and Quang Ninh. Other places would be added later if the Covid situation permits.
The city would fully reopen its doors to international travelers in the third phase after considering the development of the pandemic at the time and reviewing the outcome of the two previous phases.
Last year, the city welcomed 1.3 million tourists, falling a staggering 85% against the 2019 figure, with a majority of tourists visiting the city in the first three months of 2020.
From last year to this September, around 170 international travel firms in the city sought the authorities’ permission to withdraw their travel business licenses due to the impact of Covid. Further, there was a time when over 90% of travel companies in the city suspended operations or were operating perfunctorily, with over 60% of employees in the industry losing their jobs. The SaigonTimes‘s Hong Ngan reported.