Vietnam launches new normal tourism recovery program

By Hoang Phong, Lan Huong   September 30, 2021 | 12:30 am PT
Vietnam launches new normal tourism recovery program
Boats dock in front of Thien Mu Pagoda by the iconic Huong (Perfume) River in Hue, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh
The Vietnam Tourism Association has launched a nationwide tourism recovery program that will kick off early October with tours to low-risk green zones.

Under the program, which is being initiated as Vietnam switches from a zero-Covid strategy to new normal that involves living with the novel coronavirus, a set of safety criteria is being prepared for reopening tourism in the country.

The association said it would work closely with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to set safety rules for tourists, travel companies, tourism staff, accommodation facilities and service providers to ensure safe travel.

One common travel safety rule will be that all tourists and tourism staff have to be fully vaccinated or furnish a certificate showing they had contracted and recovered from Covid-19.

Travel companies would be only allowed to organize tours to "green zones" – those deemed at low risks of spreading the virus. They should also have contingency plans in place in case a tourist contracts the virus.

Tourist destinations must be located in the green zones and the number of visitors should not exceed 30 to 50 percent of capacity. Accommodation facilities need to abide by pandemic prevention measures and have at least one quarantine room to deal with suspected Covid cases.

At restaurants and dining establishments, there should be a private table designated for each group of tourists or family, ensuring a distance of two meters between tables. Guests' travel should be limited to safe areas and buffets can only be organized after the pandemic situation is under control.

Most popular tourist hotspots where the pandemic situation has showed signs of improvement have supported the tourism recovery program.

Hanoi plans to reopen tourism and accommodation facilities from October onwards, after the capital relaxes its Covid restrictions further.

The central province of Thua Thien-Hue, home to the former imperial capital Hue, reopened tourist destinations and historical sites Tuesday after 85 percent of its tourism staff were fully vaccinated.

Da Nang, a popular tourism hub in central Vietnam famous for long, sandy beaches, is considering reopening tourism services this December after 80 percent of its population get two Covid vaccine doses. The central city also plans to welcome inter-provincial tourists and foreign visitors next year.

After over four months of closure, HCMC, which became the nation’s Covid epicenter in the fourth wave, plans to reopen tourist destinations, hotels and resorts from early October as part of its gradual economic reopening roadmap. It also wants to organize tours to take tourists to beach destinations in Vung Tau and Binh Thuan.

Vu The Binh, vice president of Vietnam Tourism Association, said localities should narrow lockdowns to smallest areas so that the designated green zones can welcome back tourists.

Binh hoped after the tourism recovery program is launced, first tours to green zones would start in early October so that the industry can recover quickly from pandemic inflicted losses.

The closures triggered by the fourth novel coronavirus wave featuring the Delta variant have taken a heavy toll on the domestic tourism industry.

Vietnam closed its borders and canceled all international flights in March 2020. Foreign arrivals slumped from 18 million in 2019, when tourism revenue was $31 billion, or nearly 12 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, to 3.8 million last year.

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