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May 29, 2020 / 15:07

Vietnam keeps borders shut to foreign tourists

Vietnam’s inbound tourism services would only be resumed once safety conditions are met.

Vietnam should keep borders closed to foreign tourists amid increasingly complicated developments of the Covid-19 pandemic globally, according to the conclusion of the National Steering Committee on Covid-19 Prevention and Control at a meeting on May 28.

 Members of the National Steering Committee on Covid-19 Prevention and Control are meeting on May 28. Photo: vGP

At the meeting, members of the steering committee agreed that inbound tourism would only be reopened once safety conditions are met. Vietnam could consider welcoming back foreign tourists from the countries where the pandemic is under control, and pilot opening islands to foreign tourists, according to the committee. 

Vietnam has initially contained the pandemic with a relatively low number of Covid-19 patients and has gone 43 consecutive days without local infection. The containment allows the country to ease preventive measures and revive the economy, said the committee.

Trinh Thi Thuy, deputy minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said travel businesses have restarted domestic tourism through launching a range of promotional programs offering discounts and new products and have initially achieved positive results. Some accommodations even have reached occupancy rate of 100%.

The Ministry of Transport has recently requested the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) to submit a proposal on resuming some international air routes and the principle for gradually loosening immigration procedures to facilitate trade and tourism with selected countries.

 The tourism authorities preparing for resuming the inbound tourism. Photo: VOV

However, the entry of experts and skilled laborers from pandemic-hit countries poses a high risk of infection, according to Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long.

He emphasized Vietnam needs to continue to strictly control those arriving from abroad in line with regulations in an attempt to avoid the risk of community infection.

As the pandemic evolution is complicated, all arrivals must continue to comply with the current preventive regulations, said representatives from the Ministries of Defense and Public Security.

Assoc. Prof. Tran Dac Phu, former head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine, also said that relevant ministries and localities must strictly follow regulations relating to disease prevention by quarantining all international crew members, experts, and overseas students who enter the country, in accordance to current regulations.

In the first five months of 2020, international arrivals to Vietnam plunged 48.8% year-on-year to 3.7 million, according to the General Statistics Office.

In May alone, the number of tourists fell 13.6% against April and 98.3% from a year earlier. The country's tourism industry has been severely hit by the pandemic and its goal of welcoming 20.5 million international visitors this year is highly unlikely.