Many travel companies in Vietnam have urged authorities to lift pandemic-related restrictions on international tourists so that the country’s tourism sector can take back what it has lost to COVID-19 in the coming peak season.
The forthcoming summer travel season is considered the last chance for local tourism businesses to revive in the wake of the serious COVID-19 outbreak that hit the country in April last year.
Nguyen Huu Y Yen, general director of Saigontourist Travel, said that the firm is ready to welcome back international tourists to Vietnam.
The company has introduced various products to its international partners in the hope that the country would open its doors to foreign travelers from April, Yen continued.
Pham Ha, chairman of Lux Group, stated that their travel and hospitality services were fully booked during the nine-day Lunar New Year holiday, which began on January 29.
However, Lux Group is still looking forward to serving international tourists again, Ha continued.
The sooner Vietnam welcomes back foreign visitors, the more benefits its tourism sector will reap.
Such neighboring countries as Thailand, the Philippines, and Cambodia have already signaled their reopening, the chairman elaborated.
Vietnam may lose international tourists to these markets given its sluggish restoration, he warned.
There is no reason to delay this, Ha said, adding that Vietnam has one of the highest vaccine coverage rates in the Southeas Asian region.
“Tourism businesses will truly recover when their international segment is resumed,” he stressed.
Prior to the pandemic, Vietnam was considered an ideal destination of the region, according to Lai Minh Duy, general director of TST Tourist.
Although domestic tourism recovered sharply during the recent Tet holiday, businesses still expect Vietnam to soon remove COVID-19 restrictions and welcome international tourists as well as allow Vietnamese people to travel abroad.
Duy added that his company’s international partners have been in frequent contact to stay updated on Vietnam’s reopening plans.
|Foreign visitors arrive in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam as part of a ‘vaccine passport’ program. Photo: Le Trung / Tuoi Tre|
The number of international visitors searching for information about Vietnam's inbound products has increased considerably since the beginning of 2022, according to the National Administration of Tourism.
Data from Google Analytics showed that the number of international searches for Vietnam's airline services has spiked again since January, whereas more Internet users have been looking for accommodation information.
Ngo Minh Duc, chairman of HG Holdings, believed that Vietnam needs to be determined to reopen international tourism and choose the right time to announce its plan to the world.
The world has entered a new phase where the demand for travel and entertainment has recovered.
“Occupancy rates in many tourist areas around the world have been equivalent to those before 2020,” Duc elaborated.
“The world has had a different view of the pandemic, and we will miss a lot of opportunities if the reopening plan is put on hold."
The central government and local authorities should create the best possible conditions for the international tourism resumption, said Nguyen Ngoc Anh, director of Omega Tours Company.
The most important factor is to have consistent policies, Anh continued.
“We should also take into consideration the policies of other countries in the region so that we will not be too different from them,” he said.
Vietnam’s quarantine regulations are still too strict, Le Tan Thanh Tung, deputy general director of Vietnam Tourism JSC, stated, adding that tourists will not agree to be isolated if they contract the virus during their stays.
It is also hard for businesses to provide travel insurance that can cover such quarantine and treatment costs, Tung explained.
High airfare prices also pose a lot of challenges for businesses in designing package tours, he added.
Vietnam has documented 2,510,860 COVID-19 cases since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the country in early 2020.
The country had closed its borders since March 2020 before resuming multiple international air routes from January.
Several groups of international tourists have arrived in the country in the past few months as part of a pilot ‘vaccine passport’ program aimed at reviving the tourist industry.