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Vietnam ambassadors abroad want flights resumed, quarantine ended soon

By Viet Anh   December 15, 2021 | 11:00 pm PT
Vietnam ambassadors abroad want flights resumed, quarantine ended soon
Passengers are at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi in November 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Vietnamese envoys to several countries have urged the government to quickly resume commercial flights and end quarantine requirements, saying the demand to travel to Vietnam is huge.

"Singaporean enterprises are looking forward to coming to Vietnam to foster their business," the ambassador to Singapore, Mai Phuoc Dung, told VnExpress International on the sidelines of the Conference on Foreign Affairs Wednesday.

Singapore has been the biggest investor in Vietnam in the last two years, and there is great potential for expanding economic ties further, he said.

But most entrepreneurs would not visit Vietnam if they are required to quarantine, he said.

"I expect to see Vietnam soon finalize the plan to scrap quarantine as it has announced."

On December 8 Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam asked the Ministry of Health to issue new guidelines to exempt vaccinated people arriving from other countries from centralized quarantine.

Instead, they could isolate themselves at home or other places of their choice for a certain period, he had said.

Dung said Singapore had urged Vietnam last month to open a green travel channel for fully vaccinated people from both countries, who, if they also test negative for Covid, do not have to quarantine and could freely go out.

But Vietnam has not responded to the request since it does not have a unified guideline for quarantine, he said.

Singapore has resumed commercial flights to Laos and Cambodia, he pointed out.

Around 3,000 Vietnamese nationals in Singapore have registered to return home for the Lunar New Year [in early February], but since there are few repatriation flights, most would be unable to return if commercial flights do not resume, he said.

Since Covid began almost two years ago, 200,000 Vietnamese have been repatriated, including around 8,000 from Singapore.

Ambassador to the U.S., Ha Kim Ngoc, expressed optimism about the direct service between San Francisco and HCMC, saying it would make traveling to Vietnam for Lunar New Year easier for overseas Vietnamese.

In normal years around 500,000 people would make the trip to Vietnam for the holiday.

Ngoc said that the number of people registering for repatriation flights is low, and recent ones had over 50 empty seats.

A huge number of foreigners too want to visit Vietnam, but are worried about the quarantine requirement, he said.

"A short quarantine of around three days might be acceptable."

The government has approved the resumption of international flights on January 1 to nine destinations that have high vaccination rates and good pandemic control: San Francisco or Los Angeles, Singapore, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Beijing/Guangzhou, Tokyo, Seoul, and Taipei.

In other places too there is enormous demand to visit Vietnam though flights have not been approved, envoys said.

Pham Binh Dam, Vietnam’s consul general in Hong Kong, said related ministries in Vietnam need to speed up agreements for restarting commercial flights and ending quarantine requirements to attract foreign investment, warning any delay could see it lose opportunities to neighboring countries.

"I suggest that Vietnam should resume flights to Hong Kong in the first phase of the Ministry of Transport’s plan, not the second".

The ministry had suggested resuming international flights in two phases, from Dec. 15 – which the government approved though it changed it to January 1.

The destinations in the second phase, whose starting date has not been determined, include Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Paris, Frankfurt, Sydney, and Moscow.

Dam said Hong Kong has had no new Covid case in recent months, and so Vietnam’s quarantine requirement for visitors from the island is not reasonable.

He said many of the 8,000 Vietnamese in Hong Kong want to return home for Tet.

The ambassador to Russia, Dang Minh Khoi, said many entrepreneurs in that country have expressed a desire to visit Vietnam to develop their business but find it difficult because of various requirements.

"If we do not welcome them, they will look for opportunities in other countries that offer more convenient conditions."

Besides around 80,000 Vietnamese living in Russia wish to visit the country since many have been unable to do so for two years due to the pandemic, he said.

The 'combo flights and hotels' offered by companies are very expensive and irregular and so do not fit their needs, he added.

 
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