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Regional Covid-19 outbreaks challenge Vietnam’s resumption of int’l tourism

April 27, 2021 | 16:28

Vietnam has planned to reopen its doors to international tourists in the coming months but the plan is being hindered due to the complicated development of Covid-19 in other countries in the region.

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Regional Covid-19 outbreaks challenge Vietnam’s resumption of int’l tourism
(Photo: UNICEF)

According to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s plan, Vietnam will pilot resuming international tourism from July to September 2021, with a focus on seaside resorts and golf services for tourists from South Korea.

The ministry chose the Southern Hoi An region and Chu Lai Airport in Quang Nam Province, which meet the requirements on transport, healthcare and tourism infrastructure, to pilot resuming international tourism.

The government of Quang Nam said it is willing to collaborate with ministries and departments for this purpose.

Some businesspeople said by piloting resuming international tourism from July to September, Vietnam would be able to reopen its doors to international tourists by later this year.

Besides Quang Nam, some other localities also want to pilot resuming international tourism to help the industry recover. Kien Giang Province wants to welcome Russian tourists to resorts on Phu Quoc Island.

Nguyen Trung Khanh, chairman of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said to prepare for the resumption of international tourism, localities must implement effective Covid-19 infection prevention and control measures and enhance the close cooperation between destinations, travel companies, accommodation facilities and transport companies to ensure safety for tourists, the community and tourism staff.

Regional Covid-19 outbreaks challenge Vietnam’s resumption of int’l tourism
(Photo: Bangkok Post)

Pressure from regional Covid-19 situation

Resuming international tourism amid Covid-19 is a great challenge, with many requirements such as negotiations with source markets, effective control over unexpected incidents and ensuring the capacity of the tourism and health system.

To collaborate with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to pilot resuming international tourism, Quang Nam Province has asked the Ministry of Health for support.

The province suggested that the ministry put in place regulations on medical requirements for international tourists and solutions to ensure their safety, give guidance in case there are tourists infected with Covid-19 and determine the fees related to Covid-19 infection prevention and control, according to Asian Nikkei.

The province also wants to vaccinate all officials and employees that have close contact with tourists and negotiate with source markets on recognizing Covid-19 testing results and immigration policies.

“Vietnam has effectively put the pandemic under control and sped up Covid-19 vaccination. However, I’m worried that the recent outbreaks in other countries such as Cambodia, Thailand and India will prevent Vietnam from accelerating the resumption of international tourism,” a businessman in HCMC said.

Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung said resuming international tourism is a big challenge, involving many relevant agencies. Therefore, the Government will be very careful, resume international tourism step by step and prioritize safety.

The Government will not sacrifice the people’s health and safety for economic benefits.

Vietnam earlier planned to resume international tourism last year but the plan was ruined by the second Covid-19 wave.

Covid-19 situations in Vietnam’s neighboring countries

Thailand’s government slapped restrictions on travel from India on Monday over concerns of imported coronavirus cases and closed more venues in Bangkok, even as it came under fire for not doing enough to contain a spike in infections.

The government has ordered parks, gyms, cinemas and day-care centres in its capital, the epicentre of the latest wave of infections, to shut from April 26 until May 9.

It has also introduced a fine of up to 20,000 baht ($635) for not wearing masks in public, with even the prime minister falling foul of mask-wearing rules.

Regional Covid-19 outbreaks challenge Vietnam’s resumption of int’l tourism
Temple workers carry a coffin containing a body of a man who died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during his funeral at a temple in Bangkok, Thailand April 24, 2021. Photo: Reuters

Thailand has managed to keep its caseload lower than many countries, but the latest outbreak has resulted in 57,508 infections and 148 deaths in just under 30 days. It reported 2,048 new cases on Monday, of which 901 were in Bangkok.

The president of Thailand's Thoracic Society, Nithiphat Chiarakun, also urged the government to take "decisive measures to stop the movement of people as quickly as possible".

Thailand plans to procure more vaccines from several producers with a vaccination goal of 300,000 doses per day to inoculate at least 50 million people by end-2021, the prime minister posted.

Thailand has a population of about 66.1 million, according to Reuters.

Laos introduces two-week lockdown to contain rare outbreak

The government of Laos has closed its borders and announced a two-week lockdown in the capital, Vientiane, as the country weathers a rare outbreak of COVID-19 linked to its neighbor Thailand.

Vientiane will bunker down until May 5, Lao Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh announced on Wednesday, during which time the city’s residents must remain at home unless buying groceries or seeking medical treatment. All gatherings of more than 20 people will be prohibited, and entertainment venues, bars, massage parlors, and gyms will be forced to close.

The government has also banned travel between the capital and the provinces and has moved to clamp down on illegal border crossings from Thailand, which is currently in the midst of its worst outbreak of the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Regional Covid-19 outbreaks challenge Vietnam’s resumption of int’l tourism
(Photo: The Diplomat)

The Lao lockdown also comes a week after its neighbor Cambodia instituted a two-week lockdown of the capital Phnom Penh and the nearby town of Takhmau to get a handle on its own alarming COVID-19 outbreak. Announcing the measures last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen told the nation, “We are on the brink of death already. If we don’t join hands together, we will head to real death.” The lockdown has since been extended to the coastal city of Sihanoukville.

On Thursday, Cambodian health authorities confirmed 446 new cases of COVID-19, bringing its total to 8,193, while three more people died of the disease, bringing the country’s toll of fatalities to 59, as reported by The Diplomat.

While the outbreaks in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia may seem insignificant compared to the record-breaking outbreak currently ravaging India, they are alarming given that these nations went through most of 2020 mostly untouched by the virus.

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