Vietnam officially reopens its doors to international tourism

06:00 | 28/03/2022 Culture & Tourism

(VEN) - Vietnam officially reopened to international tourism on March 15 after being closed off to most foreign arrivals for two years, prompting hopes of recovery for its tourism sector that was dealt a deadly blow during the pandemic.

vietnam officially reopens its doors to international tourism
Vietnam is accelerating tourism recovery and development

Appropriate time

Vietnam has almost completed the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination campaign, allowing the country to reopen its gates to international tourism, a spearhead economic sector that accounted for 9.2 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019. Vietnam welcomed more than 18 million visitors in 2019, but by 2021, that figure had plummeted to just 157,000 foreign arrivals due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As of mid-February, Vietnam’s international air routes to 20 countries and territories have also reopened.

To accelerate recovery of aviation, tourism and business travel, incoming visitors no longer need Covid-19 vaccination certificates or proof of recent recovery, nor quarantine, but they must take a pre-arrival Covid-19 test or do so upon arrival and comply with Covid-19 prevention measures.

Vietnam has also relaxed its entry policies in a bid to attract five million international visitors as planned for 2022 and create conditions for airlines to increase international flights to potential markets.

The easing of entry procedures is a significant development compared to competitive regional tourist markets such as Thailand, which maintain tougher restrictions and quarantine for foreign tourists. Nearly 77 percent of Vietnam’s 98 million population have been vaccinated, according to official data, one of the region’s highest rates.

vietnam officially reopens its doors to international tourism

Visa policy relaxation

Virus curbs have slowly been eased in recent months, with visitors trickling back in since November to specific approved sites.

The Vietnamese government has issued Resolution 32/NQ-CP dated March 15, 2022 on visa exemptions for foreign nationals. Specifically, the waiver will apply to citizens of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Belarus who stay in Vietnam for up to 15 days, no matter what visa type they hold or their purposes of entry. The waiver will last for three years, from March 15, 2022 to March 14, 2025, and an extension would be considered in line with Vietnamese laws. Vietnam has also reopened its e-visa website - where citizens from 80 countries, including the US, Canada and the UK, can apply for a tourist e-visa valid for up to 30 days.

Internet searches for international flights to Vietnam increased by 425 percent in early January compared to the same period last year, reflecting booming demand and raising hopes of travel agencies and tourism service providers.

Bui Doan Ne, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Aviation Business Association, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects international demand to reach 44 percent of pre-crisis levels. The aviation sector welcomes opportunities to accelerate recovery and development, but it requires the efforts of businesses and the support of the government and localities.

Nguyen Trung Khanh, general director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said Vietnam needs to improve the quality of tourism products and tourist accommodations in order to increase competitiveness of the tourism sector.

International travelers to Vietnam are required to take a PCR Covid-19 test 72 hours before departure or a rapid antigen test no more than 24 hours prior to traveling to Vietnam. Those who do not take a pre-departure Covid-19 test will be required to undergo Covid-19 testing within 24 hours of arrival in Vietnam.

Hoa Quynh