Race now on to offer best regional tourism

March 29, 2022 | 10:25
Potential tourists are beginning to weigh up the pros, cons, and differences in entry and exit policy among Southeast Asian nations like Vietnam, as these countries attempt to move their tourism sectors on from tough pandemic restrictions.
Race now on to offer best regional tourism
Great deals will help entice tourists new and old to Vietnam to enjoy the nation’s beauty, Photo: Van Pham

Although regulations around the world are continuing to change on a daily basis due to the ongoing pandemic, currently Vietnam’s entry conditions look to be much looser than other continental nations that are partially or fully open, such as Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia, according to North American affordable tourist website Travel Off Path.

The reason is that visitors do not need to present a certificate of vaccination against COVID-19 or a certificate of recovery from the disease when entering Vietnam. Foreign visitors are also not quarantined, but only need to follow the minimum entry regulations, including negative rapid test result in the first 24 hours or a negative PCR test within 72 hours before departure, and with a health insurance limit of $10,000.

Visitors who cannot be tested before arriving in Vietnam can also complete the test after entry and will be allowed to go about things as normal if the results are negative.

Meanwhile, in Thailand and Cambodia, although they do not require international visitors to have a test before entry, each country has its own regulations to ensure that visitors’ journeys are safe. Foreign visitors to Thailand are still required to complete a PCR test immediately upon entry and on the fifth day thereafter.

Currently, visitors to Cambodia still need to be fully vaccinated and will be quarantined for 14 days if they cannot present proof of vaccination.

Some other countries have stricter regulations, such as Singapore, which has not fully opened up to tourism but only established a vaccine travel lane with more than 30 countries and territories. Visitors to Singapore, in addition to presenting a certificate of completion of two injections, must also have a negative test result within 48 hours.

Indonesia still maintains a pilot model of picking up tourists at some destinations, while Malaysia and Myanmar both announced the restoration of all tourism from April, but with the condition that tourists must have a certificate of vaccination and experience one week of quarantine.

Most businesses in the country believe that Vietnam’s tourism industry has chosen a golden time for opening and implementing stimulus programmes in potential tourism markets. Acting head of Sales and Marketing at Vietnam Airlines, Pham Thi Nguyet shared, “Our partners and customers are really satisfied with Vietnam’s open policy,” while Sun Group’s head of Sales, Tran Nguyen said, “We are confident enough to welcome guests and I believe that international guests will also feel safe when coming to Vietnam.”

Nguyen added that, at this point, Vietnam may have more advantages than the likes of both Thailand and Singapore. “We can catch the peak tourist season of Northeast Asian tourists in April-May, and also the peak season for both European and Australian tourists starting from August,” Nguyen said.

Tourist agencies have begun to receive bookings from a number of delegations. “We have received charter bookings for the whole boat until the beginning of June, which is a pretty good signal for the return,” said Hoang Anh Dung, director of Ambassador Cruise Sales.

Quang Nguyen, a representative of an outbound business in Ho Chi Minh City, said that on April 3-4, his company will welcome two delegations of 130 investors from the United States and Canada to Vietnam to travel and survey the market.

Lux Group, which boasts 20 years of experience in hospitality, food and beverages, and even yachting, also announced that it will welcome a group of tourists from Australia in May as well as other groups from France, Germany, and Spain, who have all booked previous tours before and want to return to Vietnam this summer.

Vietnam has now resumed the previous visa waiver programme for citizens from 13 countries and allows citizens from 80 countries to apply for tourist visas within 30 days. However, this number is still very modest when compared with 64 visa-free countries and territories for Thailand, 70 countries for Indonesia, and 157 countries in the Philippines.

Representatives of some tourism businesses also expressed the desire that the government would consider expanding the visa exemption to other potential markets to create conditions for stronger tourism demand during the reopening period.

“We strongly suggest that the government consider doubling the current visa-free period of 15 days for the key tourist markets from Europe especially, because they tend to stay longer than average. With the current visa validity period, they will have to shorten the trip and lose the opportunity to experience and spend more when coming to Vietnam,” said Nguyen of Sun Group.

By Hoang Oanh

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