Vietnam to Pilot Vaccine Passport Acceptance For Tourism Recovery Opportunities

The Party Politburo has agreed to pilot the vaccine passport policy with international visitors in a number of tourist sites where the COVID-19 pandemic has been contained
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The Party Politburo has agreed to pilot the vaccine passport policy with international visitors in a number of tourist sites where the COVID-19 pandemic has been contained.

A vaccine passport (Source: The Regulatory Review)
A vaccine passport (Source: The Regulatory Review)

In October 2020, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism launched a mobile app called “Du Lich Viet Nam An Toan” (Safe travel in Vietnam), using a digital map to recommend safe destinations and tourism services. This mobile app will soon incorporate the Certificates of COVID-19 vaccination site.

When entering Vietnam, tourists are required to show their vaccination records confirmed through the Certificates of COVID-19 vaccination site by Vietnamese authorities to ensure "safe input". During their stay, they must check in everywhere they go on the mobile app Safe travel in Vietnam, cited from the VOV.

Associate Professor Dr Tran Dac Phu, senior advisor at the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre under the Health Ministry, said the passport is actually a certificate for a person having fully vaccinated against the disease following recommendations of vaccine producers or State management agencies.

Illustrative photo (Source: VNA)
Illustrative photo (Source: VNA)

Vietnam needs a strategy to recognise vaccine passports with other countries in bilateral or regional forms, he said, adding that in the immediate future, the mechanism will be piloted with a few countries posting high vaccination rates, and with vaccines of high immunogenicity, which are approved by reputable health organisations, said vietnamplus.

Nguyen Van Gia, an expert in tourist destination development, noted the application of vaccine passports has contributed to eradicating travel barriers and creating a driving force for socio-economic growth by reopening tourism. In Europe, Italy, Greece, Spain, Croatia and Iceland have opened their doors for tourists from the US.

Nguyen Tien Dat, Director of the AZA Travel Company, suggested piloting vaccine passports first in the domestic market before extending to foreign markets. He said the first destination can be Phu Quoc island and foreign visitors can be received via golf or resort tours.

Phu Quoc island
Phu Quoc island. Photo: VOV

Although many countries around the world have implemented vaccine passports, the World Health Organization (WHO) has yet to support the idea of issuing such passports to promote travel. The WHO believes that now is not the time to use vaccine passports, because there are still many unknowns related to the vaccination effectiveness in preventing COVID-19, while the supply of vaccines remains limited.

Deputy Minister of Health Tran Van Thuan said the mechanism will only be effective when herd immunity, is realised, meaning 70 percent of the population is vaccinated.

The Ministry of Health has set out three options for the implementation of the vaccine passport scheme that targets three groups – Vietnamese people stuck abroad; foreigners entering Vietnam to invest and do business; and international tourists.

Currently, the rate of vaccination against COVID-19 in Vietnam is to low for herd immunity. In such condition, the implementation of vaccine passports for foreign arrivals without tight monitoring is likely to cause an uncontrolled spreading of the disease in the community.

Also, VnExpress reports that Vietnam will trial a vaccine passport program in Quang Ninh Province starting in July. Under this pilot initiative, foreign entrants who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 and test negative for the virus upon arrival would only have to stay at centralized quarantine for seven days, as opposed to the current 21 days.

In an interview granted to the Voice of Vietnam, Hoang Quoc Hoa, Deputy Director of the Tourism Information Center under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said his center has worked to develop a site on Certificates of COVID-19 vaccination at https://travelpass.tourism.vn which will be operational when foreign tourists are allowed to get into Vietnam. This site will collect information from tourists, regarding their travel history, vaccination certificates, and medical record, which will be connected to the database of Vietnamese authorities in communications, healthcare, immigration, and transportation for legal verification. The site is now ready to be launched, said Hoa.

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