Vietnam reopens borders to tourism after 2 years amid uncertainty

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Mar 14 (EFE).- Vietnam is preparing to reopen its borders to international tourism on Tuesday, after a two-year closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic even though uncertainty prevails over certain technical aspects of the decision, such as visas.

Since the Communist government announced the reopening in mid-February, industry entrepreneurs have been eagerly awaiting more details about the visa requirements and health protocols tourists have to meet against the coronavirus.

Chau Cecilia Nguyen, head of the tour agency Urbanist Travel, told EFE Monday that, according to the Immigration Office, “there is a 98 percent chance of approving tourist visas on Mar. 15. But there is a two percent chance of change at the last minute because they have to wait for the final directive of the Ministry of Health.”

Like most tour operators, Urbanist Travel has not made any promotion abroad until it is clear about the procedure, expected to be published on Tuesday.

This uncertainty takes away Vietnam’s competitiveness against other countries in the region such as Indonesia, the Philippines or Thailand, which have been relaxing entry requirements in recent months.

The last two months have marked a transition with the controlled arrival of some 49,200 international travelers, which came after a two-year closure when only expert foreign workers and repatriated Vietnamese could enter the country.

The tourism sector has taken a hit in Vietnam since the Covid-19 pandemic forced the country to close its borders in March 2020.

Vietnam received 18 million foreign tourists in 2019. The number is expected to touch five million in 2022.

The reopening comes at a time when Vietnam has high rates of Covid-19, with an average of 239,000 infections a day in the last week.

However, the high vaccination rate, with more than 90 percent of the target population having been administered two doses, has allowed the healthcare system to prevail. EFE


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