31st Sea Games - Vietnam 2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
Mar 25, 2022 / 16:23

ASEAN countries should mutually recognize health certification

The goal is to have a common standard among ASEAN countries wherein apps can be seamlessly connected instead of travelers carrying printed certificates to travel in the ASEAN region.

ASEAN countries should mutually recognize health and Covid-19 test certifications to facilitate travel, foreign experts said.

Vietnam Airlines successfully trialed the digital health passport application last year. Photo: Khanh Huy

Michael Michalak, former US Ambassador to Vietnam and Senior Vice President of the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC), said the mutual recognition is very important and called on Vietnam, as a member of the regional bloc, to take the lead in cooperation with countries such as Singapore and Thailand to accelerate the process.

The goal is to have a common standard among ASEAN countries wherein apps can be seamlessly connected instead of travelers carrying printed certificates to travel in the ASEAN region, he underlined. As such, visitors don't have to carry a pack of health certificates or test results everywhere. 

At the national level, Singapore, Thailand, or Vietnam, each has one or two popular and very successful apps in the country. However, across ASEAN, there has not been a system that allows the interoperability of apps because of the lack of common standards.  

The US-ABC Vice President added governments in ASEAN have a long history of economic, tourism, and trade cooperation, and it is a prerequisite to creating an environment for them to cooperate and agree on standards for health certification or testing.

As the demand for visiting Vietnam is large, there are still concerns about issues related to certificates, or digital procedures when entering the country. Sharing about the issues, Le Truong Hien Hoa, Deputy Director of the Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism said in the past, there were many different medical declaration apps, but the Vietnamese Government has requested the Ministry of Information & Communication to unify all apps in one single medical declaration one, namely PCCovid-19 for everyone.

In addition, airlines such as Vietnam Airlines, Bamboo Airways, or Vietjet Air have also used the Electronic Health Passport from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as well as integrated digital solutions for travelers to update their test results before departure.

Hoa also added the city’s tourism industry is supporting businesses that will receive large groups of tourists into Vietnam (MICE) from now until the end of the year. “We have worked with Tan Son Nhat Airport and tourist attractions to help visitors carry out procedures faster and easier. We expect tourists will find it easy to visit Vietnam and HCMC,” he underlined.

 An overview of the event. Photo: Phi Nhat

At a recent travel conference, a representative from Adobe John Mackeney, an online research company, shared that to further promote Vietnam's tourism after the Covid-19 pandemic, it is necessary to have a close connection among travel businesses, airlines, and travel agencies as well as authorities and associations.

In such link, local associations play the role of connecting the remaining parties to synchronize services for tourists, from their booking time to when they enjoy tourism services in Vietnam.

“It is required to build a supply chain among tourism businesses, airlines, and the authorities,” Mackeney recommended.“Vietnam's tourism also needs to be promoted more strongly through online platforms. The country’s tourism authorities should understand tourists more by using digital tools.”

Regarding the reopening of the aviation industry, Vu Hong Quang, Deputy Head of the Air Transport Department under the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) emphasized the aviation industry is ready. Domestic flights have been restored from October 2021 and international routes have been fully reopened from March 15. 

In addition to international tourists coming to Vietnam, the agency is also working with other countries so that Vietnamese people can freely travel abroad, he added.