Vietnamese Tourism Officials Consider Covid-19 Vaccine Passports

Nguyen Trung Khanh, head of administration, said on Thursday that after working with relevant agencies, he would consult with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to alert the government to the possibility of vaccine passports, a certificate identifying those who have been vaccinated against Covid19.

The move came after many tourism experts suggested the government consider opening up to foreign visitors vaccinated from the third quarter on the same vein as regional peers to revive the hard-hit tourism industry.

As the world began to roll out vaccines against Covid-19, vaccination certificates appeared to identify those who were vaccinated for cross-border travel.

China and Israel were the first to issue digital health certificates to travelers vaccinated against Covid-19, also known as “vaccine passports”.

The United States and Britain are among the countries currently considering issuing similar permits, while the EU is also working on its own ‘green pass’ for vaccines, allowing those who have had the vaccine to travel more freely in the region this summer.

The head of the government office, Mai Tien Dung, said on Thursday that the government has yet to consider relaxing pandemic prevention protocols for those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Those who enter the country and hold “vaccine passports” must still undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine according to health ministry regulations, Dung noted.

Luong Hoai Nam, a member of the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), said reopening foreign tourism could “help raise the country’s status” as Vietnam cannot wait for the end of the Covid-pandemic. 19 to welcome international tourists to the country.

Pham Duy Nghia, director of Viet Food Travel Company, which specializes in bringing foreign experts into the country, said vaccine passports could boost the tourism industry when widely applied in the future.

But he noted that these passports could only be applied in the next three to four months, when the global pandemic situation shows signs of slowing down and many people around the world have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Nguyen Ngoc Toan, director of Images Travel Company specializing in welcoming European visitors to Vietnam, initially suggested that the country could consider opening up to business travelers from countries and territories in the region. where Vietnam maintains close trade relations like Japan, South Korea or Singapore.

“Those who have been vaccinated must enter Vietnam without being quarantined. Neighboring countries like Singapore and Thailand all have plans to accommodate business travelers,” Toan added.

However, Vietnamese health experts have proposed that foreign passengers with vaccination passports should still be subject to a 14-day quarantine in the absence of information about the potential risk of infection after a two-dose inoculation.

Vietnam saw a 79% year-over-year decline in foreign visitors in 2020 due to travel restrictions linked to the pandemic, with the country receiving 3.83 million foreign tourists from a record high of 18 million in 2019, according to official data.

The government has closed national borders and canceled all international flights since March 25, with only Vietnamese returnees, foreign experts and highly skilled workers allowed entry under strict conditions.

The government recently gave the green light to resume commercial flights to seven Asian destinations, mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, but Vietnamese carriers are still not authorized to perform inbound flights.

Vietnam has gradually brought under control the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic which returned to the country on January 28 after nearly two months and has spread to 13 localities, including major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City .

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