Tourism industry prepares for its grand renaissance

December 11, 2021 | 09:31
Vietnam is hoping to revive the battered tourism industry with the reopening of some regular international flights this month, in addition to loosening entry and quarantine regulations for visitors from abroad.
Tourism industry prepares for its grand renaissance
Cu Lao Cham, VNA

During a meeting with the president of the Japan External Trade Organization at the end of last month, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said that Vietnam plans to reopen international flights to Japan and other countries from the beginning of December.

If this plan is implemented, the resumption of regular international flights would take place one month earlier than proposed by the Ministry of Transport. Countries and territories with high COVID-19 vaccination rates will be given priority to resume flights in the first phase, including Australia, Cambodia, China, France, Germany, and many others.

The information has quickly received support from Vietnamese airlines. The majority said that when Vietnam decided to change its strategy from zero COVID-19 towards a safe and flexible adaptation and effective control of the pandemic, the early resumption of regular international flights would not only remove difficulties for carriers and tourism businesses but also create favourable conditions for foreign investors and businesspeople to come to Vietnam.

“Many European nations, and neighbouring countries such as Singapore, Thailand, and Cambodia, have now reopened international routes. The slower we are, the more we will lose the opportunity to compete with other countries,” said Trinh Hong Quang, deputy general director of Vietnam Airlines.

Bui Doan Ne, general secretary of the Vietnam Aviation Business Association, also argued that Vietnam should consider removing quarantine rules for passengers who have been fully vaccinated and have negative test results as many countries and territories accept vaccine passports.

“The aviation and tourism industry needs to create a closed, safe corridor for international visitors. The seven-day quarantine requirement will prevent international passengers from flying as no-one wants to come to Vietnam to stay for a week in a hotel,” Ne said.

Welcoming guests again

Before deciding to resume international flights, Vietnam built a pilot programme to welcome visitors back to five major tourist centres of Vietnam from mid-November.

In just two weeks, chartered flights carrying thousands of tourists have landed in Phu Quoc, Danang, and Khanh Hoa, bringing the first international tourists back to Vietnam after nearly two years.

Although the move was a positive signal for the tourism industry, representatives of some businesses believe that the industry and related ministries need to take more drastic actions.

“The official reopening was continuously delayed due to the delay in vaccinations and some regulations, as well as the passive stance of relevant ministries and agencies, causing Phu Quoc to miss its golden opportunity. The longer the next steps take, the slower we are and the more opportunities we waste,” said Huynh Van Son, director of Saigon Sea Star JSC.

Saigon Sea Star owns the Phu Quoc Grand World complex, the NightZone 68, and the Saigon Seafood Hub Market at the Phu Quoc United Centre. However, even after opening its doors to welcome the first South Korean tourists, Son said that the number of visitors coming through was still not enough to compensate for the resources that businesses have invested.

“There are only about 200 guests in a large resort. The number is not enough for us to reopen any services and make profits,” Son shared.

Nguyen Minh Man, marketing and communications director of TST Tourist Company said, “There have been quite a few customers contacting us to register for visa procedures to Japan and the US, but we can only support the visa procedures. Plans to also bring them to these destinations fail as there are no return flights. On the other hand, many customers from Singapore also ask about tours to Vietnam, but only chartered tours are available now.”

Careful proceedings

To prepare for a more comprehensive reopening plan, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) launched a promotion and advertising campaign called Live Fully in Vietnam.

In addition, the country wants to set up a travel bubble with ASEAN countries and focus on tourists from Northeast Asia such as South Korea and Japan, some of Vietnam’s biggest markets.

Nguyen Trung Khanh, director general of VNAT, said work has been done with Thailand to jointly develop tourism in the coming time. “In December, Vietnam is expected to welcome the first group of Thai tourists under the ongoing vaccine passport trial programme,” Khanh said.

By the end of December, Danang is expected to welcome 11,500 foreign tourists, followed by Khanh Hoa with 9,400 and Phu Quoc with 3,500.

After the pilot phase ends at the end of December, Vietnam will enter the second phase of the trial programme, allowing tourists to travel to multiple destinations after staying at the first for seven days.

By Lu Y

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