Tightening COVID-19 control measures for foreign tourists may affect tourism’s competitiveness hinh anh 1First foreign tourists visiting Vietnam under a pilot vaccine passport programme (Illustrative image. Source: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Ministry of Health (MoH) has sent a dispatch to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism asking it to consider the supplementation and adjustment to a number of contents of its draft plan to reopen tourism activities regarding COVID-19 prevention and control measures. However, many travel firms showed concern that the tightened measures will affect the tourism sector’s competitiveness.

Tightened pandemic control measures

Under the document, the MoH underlined the need to consider the evaluation of pandemic level in each locality and region providing tourism services, while ensuring that all localities have already designed their plans to respond to COVID-19 circumstances while resuming tourism activities to protect the health of tourists and the community.

It is necessary to clarify the responsibilities of localities and tourism service suppliers as well as tourists in supervising and implementing COVID-19 prevention and control measures, it said.

The MoH suggested conditions for specific tourist groups, under which visitors aged 12 years and above must have a certificate of full COVID-19 vaccination issued by authorised agencies, with the last dose given at least 14 days and no more than six months from the time of departure, or a certificate of recovery from the disease or equivalent documents certifying that they have recovered from COVID-19, issued by a competent authority in the country of treatment within a period of not more than six months.

High-risk groups, including people from 65 years old, pregnant women and people with background diseases, should be advised to restrict their travel until a new instruction, while getting full COVID-19 shots before entering Vietnam.

Tourists should carry negative test result for SARS-CoV-2 (by RT-PCR/RT-LAMP method) within 72 hours before entering Vietnam.

Foreign tourists must make health declaration before entering the country and use PC-COVID app throughout their stay.

They should inform medical staff at border gates if showing COVID-19 symptoms, while following the 5K message. They must stay at their accommodation within 72 hours of entering Vietnam.

Tightening COVID-19 control measures for foreign tourists may affect tourism’s competitiveness hinh anh 2International tourists entering Vietnam will receive health checks and monitoring within 72 hours (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Children under 12 are not required to have vaccination certificates, while those under 2 years old will not need to take COVID-19 tests to join tourism activities outside their accommodation, the MoH recommended.

Commenting on the regulations, many experts and travel firms held that the MoH is tightening medical rules for international tourists.

Many showed concern that along with the complicated COVID-19 developments in Vietnam, the regulations will harm the national tourism sector’s competitiveness against other tourism markets where COVID-19 prevention and control measures are looser.

Outbound tours warming up

While the regulations for international tourists in Vietnam are being tightened, domestic travel firms said that they have been ready for providing domestic travellers outbound tours due to higher demands.

Doan Thi Thanh Tra from Saigontourist said that the firm has reopened many regular tours to other countries, including the US, Singapore and Dubai. In March, Saigontourist will continue to exploit other markets in Europe, Middle East, North-eastern Asia, Southeast Asia with package and Free & Easy tours to meet the diverse demand of travellers.

Meanwhile, recently, Vietravel has seen a rising number of tourists who are interested in foreign tours. Director of the firm Pham Van Bay said that Vietravel is promptly building its tourism products abroad for its customers.

With the reopening of international commercial flights, many travel firms have eyed a “narrow road” to recover the outbound tourism market at a hope for a better situation in this summer. Despite the positive signals in the market, many businesses held that the market has remained “sensitive”.

Earlier, the Government agreed with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s proposal to fully reopen international tourism activities in the new normal, starting from March 15 after two years of COVID-19-triggered border closures./.