Thursday , May 26 2022

Foreign tourists want Vietnam to scrap ‘useless’ Covid test rule


Many foreign tourists are hoping the Vietnamese government will remove the current pre-departure Covid test requirement because it serves no purpose and adds to travel costs.

Ben Teh from Singapore, who visited HCMC last month after Vietnam reopened its borders, hoped Vietnam would follow neighboring countries like Laos and Thailand in scrapping the Covid test requirement for foreign entrants.

“The pre-departure negative Covid test makes no sense to me and it’s really a hassle for travelers to get tested in their home country,” Teh told VnExpress International.

He said the test was costly, with a PCR test in Singapore costing about $100.

“It’s time to do away with the pre-departure test. Since Vietnam has decided to open its doors to the world, scrapping the test will encourage more tourists to visit,” he added.

“Scrapping the health declaration form was a great move, why not the Covid test?”

Vietnam removed the medical declaration requirement for all foreign entrants from April 27, but under the current regulation, anyone entering Vietnam must test negative for the new coronavirus within 72 hours of departure for a PCR test and 24 hours for a rapid test.

Michael Burger from the U.S. who arrived at the Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi Monday, said he had experienced a smooth arrival with swift immigration and customs procedures, except for the PCR test requirement.

He said he would visit HCMC and tourist hotspots like Da Nang and Hoi An during this trip and was satisfied with Vietnam’s tourism reopening policies that seem to be back to the way they were.

He expected the government would soon scrap the pre-departure test requirement for foreign tourists so that everyone can feel free to visit Vietnam.

“The test is a waste of time and money,” Burger said.

“I think Vietnam should consider removing the negative Covid test requirement for anyone who has been fully vaccinated and had at least one booster shot. This would not only give more credibility to the vaccines but might also be an incentive for more people to get vaccinated.”

Getting tests adds costs and getting the results back in time can sometimes be problematic, Michael added.

Ivana Katrinka Palacios from the Philippines, who plans to fly to Vietnam this summer, said she was not comfortable with the pre-departure test requirement because it was “really useless” and no longer meaningful at this time.

“We’re not really sure those people will not get infected by Covid after they take the tests. We don’t know the whereabouts of those people and whom they will interact with in the span of 72 hours or 24 hours,” she said.

In a proposal submitted to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh last week, experts from the government-run Private Economic Development Research Board wanted the government to lift coronavirus test requirements for foreign entrants because it would be a “barrier” to reopening international tourism.

Pham Ha, CEO of Lux Group, which specializes in luxury cruises, said it was time for the government to completely lift tourism barriers for foreign tourists to compete with other regional countries.

Starting March 15, Vietnam allowed quarantine-free travel and resumed its pre-pandemic visa exemption policy for citizens from 24 countries, including Japan, South Korea and European economies. The country is providing one-month visa to other countries, and has not resumed the three-month visa.

However, the number of foreign tourists visiting the country remains relatively low. Travel firms which specialize in inbound tourism say that the Covid test requirement and “unfriendly” visa policies are among barriers preventing foreign tourists from returning to the country.

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