Vietnam should designate certain destinations to welcome vaccinated foreigners back while residents in these localities are inoculated against Covid-19 to boost ‘herd immunity,’ experts said.
Prof. Dr. Pham Trung Luong, former head of the Institute for Tourism Development Research, said the tourism industry, which is driving economic growth in Vietnam, earned a total revenue of $36 billion in 2019, but has been suspended for more than a year.
Therefore, the gradual reopening of international routes is necessary, Luong said.
However, Luong worried just a small mistake could result in another Covid-19 outbreak in Vietnam that would not only affect the tourism industry but many others and cause huge economic damage.
He proposed Vietnam considers welcoming back vaccinated foreigners to popular beach destinations like Da Nang and Nha Trang along the central coast and Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam.
He also proposed residents in these localities should be administered with the Covid-19 vaccine to bolster herd immunity.
If the localities cannot vaccinate their entire population, priority should be given to those working in the tourism industry, he said.
Many tourism experts earlier this month suggested the government consider opening up to vaccinated foreign visitors from the third quarter in a similar vein to regional peers to revive the hard-hit tourism industry.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc this week ordered relevant agencies to map out plans for Covid-19 vaccine passport implementation and reopening of international flights to soon help tourism and aviation sectors recover.
Economist Ngo Tri Long said vaccine passports are key for the resumption of international flights and that the task at hand was determining how the policy could be speedily implemented.
Long stressed resuming international flights and bringing vaccinated foreign tourists into the country should follow strict pandemic prevention measures.
“This is an opportunity for us to recover economic development,” he added.
Long said relevant agencies assigned by the government should speed up to work on the “‘vaccine passport” plan.
“Don’t be too slow like last year when the government greenlighted the resumption of international flights with countries and territories that had contained the pandemic; however, domestic airlines cannot operate inbound flights as ministries have not yet issued protocols to receive foreign arrivals.”
Dr. Bui Doan Ne, general secretary of Vietnam Aviation Business Association, said it recently proposed the government resume international routes and accept vaccinated foreign visitors from large tourism markets like Europe, Australia, China, South Korea and Japan.
The European Commission proposed to create a digital green certificate to facilitate safe free movement inside the EU during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The EU green pass will serve as an assurance that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, received a negative test result or recovered from Covid. Available free of charge and in digital or paper format, it would include a QR code to ensure security and authenticity.
“We hope the Ministry of Health would soon issue similar certificates and immigration control processes for international visitors to Vietnam on commercial flights,” said Ne, adding this is an opportunity for Vietnam to demonstrate to the world it is an open, integrated country with effective pandemic capabilities.
The government has closed national borders and canceled all international flights since March last year with only Vietnamese repatriates, foreign experts and highly-skilled workers allowed in with stringent conditions.
Due to border closures and travel restrictions, Vietnam recorded a 79 percent decline year-on-year in the number of foreign visitors in 2020, according to official data.