The Vietnamese government have proposed a complete reopening of the country to international tourists from the middle of March 2022.
Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam held a discussion in Hanoi last week between 7 key government departments: the Ministries of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ministry of Health, Foreign Affairs, Transport, Public Security and National Defense.
The discussion has led to the government considering reopening Vietnam earlier than the previously suggested April 2022 target, and abolishing almost all travel restrictions.
The new proposal will first be submitted to the Prime Minister for approval.
Vietnam’s Tourism During COVID-19
During the discussion in Hanoi, deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam commented on how 2 years of the pandemic have negatively affected Vietnam’s economy.
The deputy PM spoke in particular about the tourism sector, stating that it has suffered many challenges.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Vietnam has imposed some of the strictest border control measures. From March 2020, there was a complete ban on international tourists entering the country.
These harsh restrictions have severely impacted Vietnam’s tourism industry, which accounted for around 10% of gross domestic product in 2019.
The country welcomed 18 million foreign visitors in 2019, which fell drastically to just 157,000 in 2021.
Vietnam’s Vaccine Passport Tourism Program
Vietnam began to loosen the travel restrictions in November 2021 under its own pilot vaccine passport program. The program permits fully-vaccinated foreign visitors to enter the country and visit designated areas.
The policy has been successful in welcoming back international tourists, with 9,000 foreign arrivals visiting Vietnam since February 10, 2022.
Nearly 77% of Vietnam’s 98 million population is now vaccinated, according to official data, making it one of South East Asia’s highest rates.
Back to Normal for Vietnam’s Tourism Industry
During the discussions in Hanoi, tourism minister Nguyễn Văn Hùng stressed that the reopening must take into account Vietnam’s situation and lessons learned from other countries and regions.
The ministry has agreed to permit all localities to reopen to foreign tourists, instead of certain provinces, like in the vaccine program.
The ministries also discussed removing the restrictions on tourist visas, with the intention of resuming pre-pandemic visa policies. This will include the online Vietnam E-visa.
What Will Be Vietnam’s Safety Measures for Entry?
The proposal is based on allowing only fully-vaccinated tourists into the country. Arrivals must have received the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine no more than 6 months before entering Vietnam.
The vaccine policy will apply to all travelers over the age of 12. Children under 12 will not have to be vaccinated, as Vietnam itself is yet to start vaccinating this age group.
For foreign arrivals who have recovered from coronavirus within the last 6 months, proof of recovery will be also be accepted.
The proposal includes a mandatory negative COVID-19 test result before departure and on arrival. International tourists must quarantine for 24 hours at a registered hotel or accommodation while they wait for their second test result.
All passengers must also install the Vietnam government’s official COVID-19 app, and keep it on their mobile device for the duration of their stay.
Usual disease prevention and control will still be in effect once tourists arrive in Vietnam. This includes wearing a mask and social distancing.