358 stranded tourists seek repatriation from Vietnam

By Viet Tuan   April 17, 2020 | 11:39 pm PT
358 stranded tourists seek repatriation from Vietnam
Foreign tourists in resort town Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa Province, central Vietnam, February 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Ngoc.
At least 358 foreign tourists stranded in Vietnam due to worldwide travel restrictions wish to go home, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism said Friday.

The stranded tourists are from 43 countries and territories who were traveling in Vietnam and are stranded because of flight suspensions and border closures triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, said Nguyen Trung Khanh, head of VNAT.

The administration has reported this information to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so that the Vietnamese government can arrange flights to repatriate them, said.

However, these are just initial figures from 48 provinces and cities. Fifteen other localities haven’t sent their data yet.

Earlier, localities have been asked to list and report the number of stranded foreign tourists to the government before April 14 so that relevant agencies can cooperate with foreign embassies to repatriate their citizens.

The VNAT has exhorted lodging establishments to waive or reduce room rents for the foreign tourists until the transport ministry can arrange flights for them.

Last Monday, 100 British tourists in Vietnam and Cambodia were repatriated by a Vietnam Airlines flight, the foreign ministry said.

The HCMC Tourism Department on Thursday reported that there are 470 foreign tourists are stranded in the city but only 31 have expressed a desire to return home immediately.

Vietnamese carriers suspended all international flights on March 25.

Since March 22 Vietnam has prohibited entry for all foreign nationals except those with diplomatic or official passports.

In late March, the Vietnam Immigration Department issued guidelines on extension of temporary residence for foreigners who are unable to leave the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreigners who entered Vietnam with a visa waiver or tourist visa (including electronic visas) and whose resident permits have expired but do not have any sponsoring entity and cannot leave due to reasons beyond their control may seek their embassies’ or consulate generals’ sponsorship for extension of temporary residence for a maximum of 30 days while awaiting departure, and submit their application at the Vietnam Immigration Department.

The policy remains effective until April 30.

Vietnam welcomed nearly 3.7 million international tourists in the first quarter of this year, down 18.1 percent year-on-year, as entry was restricted and tourism destinations closed in response to the pandemic.

The country has not recorded any new Covid-19 infection since Thursday morning, keeping its total count at 268. Of these, 201 have been discharged and 67 are active patients.

The pandemic has reached 210 countries and territories, with reported deaths surpassing 154,000.

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