Vietnam to open up to vaccinated travellers from March

‘This is a big piece in the south-east Asia jigsaw’ - James Mundy, InsideAsia

<p>A basket boat tour in Bay Mau nipa palm jungle in Quang Nam province, central Vietnam</p>

A basket boat tour in Bay Mau nipa palm jungle in Quang Nam province, central Vietnam

Vietnam has confirmed it will reopen to fully vaccinated foreign visitors from 15 March - though they’ll have to test either side of their journey there.

The date was agreed at a government meeting on Tuesday, with state media reporting that deputy prime minister Vu Duc Dam has asked the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to announce a detailed reopening plan in the coming weeks.

It is the first time the country has fully reopened to tourists since the initial travel shutdown in March 2020, when it halted all international flights and foreign visas.

From 15 March onwards, travellers over 12 who have proof of two jabs - with the second dose given between 14 days and six months before travel - will be recognised as fully vaccinated and may enter the country.

In addition, all international visitors aged two and over must have a PCR test result from within 72 hours before travel, and on arrival must take an additional lateral flow (antigen) test. Children aged under two are exempt from the testing requirement.

They will also have to self-isolate in a hotel for one day while they wait for the results of the second test, but assuming it comes back negative, will be able to explore the country freely.

The Independent has asked the Ministry for Tourism for clarification on whether children under 12 will need to have proof of vaccination or will be allowed in with a negative test.

Like many countries, Vietnam will also insist on strong travel insurance cover - reported to be a Covid-inclusive insurance package with cover of at least $10,000 (£7,350); and travellers must have the Vietnam track & trace app installed and keep their phone on during travel.

“This is great news for us as a specialist tour operator and something that we have been looking forward to for such a long time, along with our customers and partners on the ground,” InsideAsia’s James Mundy told TGG Media.

“This is a big piece in the south-east Asia jigsaw, and the picture for travel is looking a lot more promising.”

“This is great news for the travel industry and sets the scene for the reopening of the rest of Asia,” added Glen Mintrim, the CEO of Asia specialist Wendy Wu tours.

“We already know that Japan is piloting a sequential reopening this spring and so with Vietnam reopening we are looking forward to a huge resurgence in Asia travel.”

With 19 million inbound tourist in 2019, and around $32.76bn (£24bn) earnt from tourism each year, Vietnam has been one of the keenest countries to reopen following the pandemic.

It had originally started a phased reopening in autumn 2021, starting with direct flights and certain tours to beach island Phu Quoc. Visitors from mid-March will no longer need to book a package with certain state-approved tour operators.

During the pandemic, the country had offered an automatic visa extension for travellers who may have become stranded there as flights shut down and borders closed - though this ended in January.

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