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May 21, 2020 / 07:06

Vietnam to study health standard validation before reopening to foreign tourists

With the Covid-19 pandemic under control in Vietnam, the country now seeks to breathe life back into its tourism industry.

Director General of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) Nguyen Trung Khanh said the agency has submitted a proposal to the government on welcoming international tourists again from source markets where the disease has been well controlled. Before that, Vietnam needs to develop standards to certify health condition for individuals wishing to visit Vietnam, according to VnExpress.

 Nguyen Trung Khanh, director general of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism. Photo: Zing

Vietnam’s tourism industry achieved high growth in the past five years. The number of international arrivals continued to rise in January this year. However, the Covid-19 outbreak has paralyzed tourism activities worldwide, including in Vietnam. 

As the pandemic is under control in Vietnam, Vietnam’s tourism industry will firstly focus on restoring the domestic market, said Khanh.

The VNAT has kicked start the domestic tourism stimulus program entitled “Vietnamese People Travel in Vietnam”, which has engaged the active particiption of localities, associations and travel businesses. 

The head of VNAT said this is a key task of the industry in the coming time but it requires coordination and unification of different domestic stimulus programs issued by different localities so as to achieve the utmost efficiency.

In a recent regular meeting of the government, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to coordinate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to submit to the government a reopening plan to international tourists. 

The VNAT has also developed different scenarios in line with the progress of disease control in Vietnam and other countries in the region. 

 A five-star resort in Danang. Photo: Zing

Scenarios of reopening to international tourists

In case the pandemic is contained in September in some key source markets, the VNAT would propose relaxing restrictions and re-launching promotion activities to attract international visitors. For that, a mechanism for mutual validation of medical control standards with other countries which has controlled Covid-19 is needed.

In this scenario, Southeast and Northeast Asia will be the first markets that the VNAT will target its promotion programs in the fourth quarter.

If the pandemic lasts until the end of the year, the VNAT will consider another option. 

Safe tourism corridor 

Currently Vietnam is applying QR Code on checking health certificate, and the VNAT is considering mutual validation of health standards with other markets to facilitate international arrivals in Vietnam.  

The VNAT is anticipating the recovery and disease control of some markets such as South Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan (China) and within ASEAN and preparing plan to welcome tourists from those markets. 

Golden time for the domestic tourism

 Hoi An in Quang Nam province. Photo: Zing

In the past time, Vietnam focused heavily on attracting international visitors and somewhat overlooked the domestic market. However, it is now the golden time for Vietnam’s tourism industry and travel businesses to re-define the target customers and adapt products to the needs of domestic tourists. 

As the pandemic situation in the country remains under control, the priority from now to the end of the year is to boost the domestic market, according to VNAT.
It is a good time for the tourism industry to develop policies on products and services suitable for domestic tourists. Local travel businesses also need to pay attention to training and coaching staff, Khanh said.

In boosting domestic travel, the businesses should also pay attention to environmental protection and ensuring disease prevention measures.

Tourism raised VND726 trillion (nearly US31 billion) last year, nearly 12% of Vietnam’s 2019 GDP. Vietnam welcomed some 18 million foreign tourists, higher than the 2018 record, but the figure accounted for barely 17% of the 103 million travellers.

The pandemic has caused a 98% plunge in visitors this April compared to 2019.