A message for foreign tourists: challenges to reopening Vietnam
With Vietnam being praised globally for its Coronavirus response by following the guidelines of ‘Test, Trace, Isolate’ set by the WHO and effectively ridding the community transmission of the virus, many are wondering when international travel with be able to resume.
The Vietnamese government has suspended all foreign nationals entering the country from the 22nd March until further notice, meaning that it is hard to put an exact date on when the country will once again be opened. For those wanting to visit Vietnam as a tourist however, it is important to remember the challenges faced in reopening a country that has consistently stamped out the spread of COVID-19.
Many may have seen articles floating around suggesting that international flights could resume on June 1st, and whilst this may be the case, further reading into the aforementioned articles reveals that these will likely be in extremely limited numbers, likely showing the first challenge to Vietnam – the number of tourists it may have to test, potentially treat and at a minimum quarantine; remember that the Vietnamese government is one of a few worldwide that are doing all of this free of charge, or at the cost of the administration.
Should tourism resume as normal with quarantine on arrival, the number of people placed in isolation would likely exceed a million should the number of tourists arriving be consistent with the previous year’s data provided by the Vietnam Tourism Board.
Vietnam simply cannot allow an uncapped number of tourists into the country, both for the safety of its own people & considering the financial implications of treating an unpredictable number of tourists arriving that may test positive or show symptoms of COVID-19.
Should Vietnam resume tourism, it will, as briefly mentioned in most articles regarding the subject, be on a very limited basis with the number of international flights capped only to serve limited routes, and possibly only to bring in tourists from destinations that are not considered to be high-risk. This means that anyone hoping to visit Vietnam this summer should be diligent in understanding the situation in their home country, but also only check verified government sources regarding the status of travel to Vietnam.
As a state, Vietnam has utilised stringent rules on arrival, testing, isolation and treatment, something that is not likely to change during the gradual process of reopening the country to tourism. Thus, those wishing to visit Vietnam must consider whether it is a safe and responsible thing to do.
Societal measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 such as wearing face masks in public will likely continue as Vietnam reopens for tourism; something that each visitor should remember is to follow local laws and rules set out to protect everyone.
Not only would those breaking violations be liable to receive fines, but ignoring measures put into place by a government that is leading the world in its response would be ignorant and irresponsible, potentially putting others in danger.
Despite schools reopening and daily activities being able to resume domestically, this is not the case with the rest of the world, and it is almost certain that the government will act alongside the progression of situations in each country.
Tourists waiting for a date to visit Vietnam should remember to wait for governmental updates with patience, practice responsible tourism when visiting, fill out health declaration forms with the utmost honesty and follow rules set out to prevent the spread within Vietnam – this way the country will be able to gradually reintroduce tourism whilst prioritising the safety of its people.
By Elliott Chapman (email@example.com). Elliott Chapman is a politics and international relations student; political activist. The opinions expressed here are his own.