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Vietnam pauses reopening plans


HANOI, 4 May 2021: Hopes that Vietnam was about to open its doors to international tourists suffered a setback last week as officials admitted second and third Covid-19 waves across Asia could scuttle their plans.

Regional outbreaks, including India, Thailand and the Philippines, cast doubt on plans to introduce a staggered reopening phase starting with travel bubble channels involving central Vietnam’s beach resorts.

According to a report in VietnamNet Global, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the country was planning to resume international tourism between July to September, focusing first on beach and golf resorts around Danang that were popular with tourists from South Korea during the pre-Covid-19 era.

Probing markets and maintaining safe travel measures such as Covid-19 testing while focusing on vaccinated travellers was on the agenda. It would have set the pace to open fully to international tourists during the last quarter of 2021.

Besides Danang, Hoi An and Quang Nam, some other localities also want to reopen to international tourists. Kien Giang Province says it wants to create a travel channel to bring in Russians to resorts on Phu Quoc Island with conditions such as limiting entry to those who have been vaccinated.

Vietnam has gained the upper hand over the pandemic and is speeding up the vaccination rollout. However, there are still worries that outbreaks in other countries such as Cambodia and Thailand could prevent the reopening of borders.

On a positive note, Taiwanese authorities say they are planning to negotiate travel bubble agreements with six destinations, including Vietnam.

Following the success of the Taiwan-Palau travel bubble, Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau is negotiating with Vietnam, Guam, Hawaii, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore. Palau is an island country in the western Pacific.

Taiwan has been widely applauded for its management of the pandemic, with one of the lowest per capita Covid-19 rates in the world, with 1,110 infections and 12 deaths since the first Covid outbreak in January 2020.

Vietnam stopped all international commercial flights in March 2020.  It still has not reinstated its tourist visas or visa-free travel agreements. Only foreigners invited by government agencies for business ventures of official visits can enter Vietnam at present.

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