Around March this year, while Vietnam was battling its third wave of local COVID-19 infections, the country’s health experts reckoned that vaccinated foreigners holding vaccine passports should still undergo a 14-day quarantine and must test negative for the virus at least twice after entering the country.
But now that 39.9% of the world population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and over 5.38 billion doses have been administered globally, will Vietnam finally allow travel passes for the vaccinated travelers to enter the country?
Presently, Vietnam’s national patient tally is at 486,727, getting closer to half a million mark. To date, the country has administered 20,542,325 COVID-19 vaccine doses or 21% of the 98 million population, with 2,881,553 people having been fully vaccinated.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 13,197 new cases on Thursday, Vietnam’s national day, along with 271 deaths. Death tally now at 12,138.
The latest patients consist of 11 imported cases and 13,186 domestic infections in Ho Chi Minh City (5,963), Binh Duong (4,504), Dong Nai (803), Long An (583), Tien Giang (290), Kien Giang (122), Dong Thap (102), Binh Phuoc (70), Nghe An (66), Tay Ninh (62), Khanh Hoa (58), ba Ria-Vung Tau (57), Quang Binh (56), An Giang (51), Thanh Hoa (50), Ha Noi (48), Da Nang (42), Can Tho (42), Binh Thuan (34), Dak Lak (34), Thua Thien-Hue (25), Binh Dinh (20), Quang Ngai (19), Soc Trang (13), Ca Mau (11), Bac Lieu (8 ), Ben Tre (8 ), Tra Vinh (7), Lang Son (6), Phu Yen (6), Vinh Long (5), Quang Nam (4), Dak Nong (4), Bac Ninh (3), Bac Giang (3), Ninh Thuan (2), Nam Dinh (2), Hau Giang (2), and Thai Binh (1).
Green Travel Pass?
Sheila, a fresh graduate from a neighboring Southeast Asian country, has been planning to visit Vietnam as part of her tri-city trip — Bangkok-Siem Reap-Ho Chi Minh City. “I’ve been saving up for more than two years now to make that trip possible but when the pandemic hit my home country and seeing the three countries I want to visit also struggling with the virus, I kind of felt hopeless that my dream trip will still happen.”
However, when Thailand opened its doors to vaccinated international tourists, Sheila’s excitement started to kick in again. “I just got my second dose of the vaccine two weeks ago and with the world slowly welcoming tourists again, I can’t wait to visit Vietnam soon. I did my research and I just hope they’ll have the same protocols with Thailand.”
To enable fully vaccinated tourists, like Sheila, or those recovering from COVID-19 to freely travel within the country, the Vietnamese Tourism Advisory Board proposes trying out the use of a green travel pass.
The Green Travel Pass is a digital app that will incorporate a person’s test results, COVID-19 recovery and vaccine certificates. The said app will also create conditions for the people to conveniently travel within the country — all to help revive the economic and tourism activities.
Chief general secretary of Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board Hoang Nhan Chinh, told the local media that many countries around the world have started applying digital travel passes that allow their citizens to use vaccination certificates for travel and domestic activities.
The board suggests that while the green travel pass is put to test, “the government should prioritize negotiations of mutual recognition agreements with ASEAN countries, the EU and International Air Transport Association's Travel Pass.”
Vinh Hoang, a Product Specialist at Trails of Indochina, one of Vietnam’s biggest destination management companies, agrees and is looking forward to the proposal from the Tourism Advisory Board to happen anytime soon.
“This is the best way for people to get back to work and travel. We need to recover the economy and travel industry as well as reduce unemployment,” Vinh shared.
He encourages the board to begin the pilot plan at least for the “green” zones first. Green zones are areas where the virus is under control based on a uniform set of conditions.
Most tour operators in the country are looking - and eagerly hoping - to welcome foreign travelers back and fully resume operations by 2022, granting the fourth outbreak ends soon.