Travel agencies strained as tourism recovery plan remains incomplete

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Pham Ha, CEO of luxury cruise group Lux, said he was “disheartened” and “disappointed” because a final decision on visa policy and entry restrictions for foreign tourists has not been taken with only a few days before the full resumption of the resumption of inbound tourism (March 15).

Ha said many European tourists from the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Turkey ask his company about visa-free policies and entry restrictions, but he doesn’t. don’t know how to answer it.

“No foreign tourist will be willing to return to the country if tourist barriers and quarantine measures are still in place,” he said.

Hoang Thuy Linh, deputy director of marketing and communications at tour operator HCMC Saigontourist, said the delay in issuing specific reopening instructions would hamper the recovery of the tourism industry.

Foreign tourists now have more holiday choices in Southeast Asia with the full reopening of Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines to international visitors, lifting mandatory quarantine requirements, she said.

Linh said March was not the peak season for inbound tourism, so his business remained focused on tapping into the domestic market.

Nguyen Nguyet Van Khanh, deputy marketing director of the travel agency Vietravel, said countries in the region were racing against time to reopen international tourism and “if we are still slow to issue detailed instructions on reopening , the tourism industry would lose a ‘golden’ opportunity for healing.”

“If Vietnam reopens inbound tourism from March 15 and allows tourists to travel freely for 24 hours after testing negative, I believe that Vietravel and other travel agencies will be able to welcome foreign tourists again from the end of April. “, she said.

Nguyen Chau A, CEO of private tour operator Oxalis Adventure, which takes people on exclusive cave tours in the central province of Quang Binh, said his company has been unable to sell tours to international tourists because no specific instruction has been issued so far.

Last week, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism rejected a Health Ministry proposal to increase isolation time and Covid-19 testing for foreign tourists entering Vietnam.

In a proposal submitted to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh for approval, the Ministry of Tourism suggested retaining the original requirement that foreign tourists go to their accommodations immediately and exit freely 24 hours after entering if they test negative. for the virus.

The Health Ministry’s recommendation was for tourists to self-isolate for three days and be tested two to three times during that time. He also suggested that unvaccinated children be self-isolated for seven days and tested every day.

To date, the government has not taken a final decision on this issue.

Many travel agencies agreed that no foreign tourists would want to visit or return to Vietnam under such strict quarantine and testing conditions, especially when several countries in the region have already resumed inbound tourism with easy-to-respect conditions. .

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