Director of the HCMC Department of Tourism Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa
HCMC was the country’s tourism center before the pandemic. It received more than 8.6 million foreign travelers in 2019, accounting for 50 percent of the total number of foreign tourists to the country and contributed 11 percent to the city’s Gross regional domestic product (GRDP), she said.
The Covid-19 pandemic has badly affected the city’s tourism sector for nearly two years with a mass closure of travel agents, hotels, entertainment venues, food and drink facilities.
In these days, the city’s tourism industry has made surveys on new tours, especially a waterway trip running along the Saigon River and exploring the city’s iconic buildings, historical sites and local dishes. It is one of the tours that is expected to attract a large number of visitors of South Korea, Japan and Europe.
According to tourist companies, Japanese visitors have been interested in an eco tours to Can Gio Disrict to visit Vam Sat Mangrove Forest that is a natural protected area considered as the “Green Lung of HCMC” and recognized as an international Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO in 2000, traditional craft villages, enjoy local food and participate in tree planting.
The director the tourism department noted that the People’s Committee of HCMC has recently proposed the Prime Minister and Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism to approve a pilot plan on receiving international vaccinated visitors to the city within one year from this December.
Under the program, the city will allow travel businesses to welcome vaccinated foreign visitors who register package tours via regular and charter flights in December; and foreign visitors of package tours or connection tours linking various tourist sites via regular and charter flights from January 2022. The city will be expected to entirely ease international travel restrictions in April 2022 and resume international air routes from HCMC to San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, and Frankfurt.
International travelers have to display certificate of vaccination that does not apply to children under 12 years old accompanied by a parent or guardian; certificates confirming recovery from Covid-19 infection issued within 6 months before flight or essential papers having the same value that are approved by the authorized units for treatment.
Visitors must have received their first or second vaccine shot at least 14 days before and no more than 12 months ahead of arrival. They must get Covid-19 negative test result taken within 72 hours of their scheduled flight, or arrival and travel insurance with a minimum of US$50,000.
Tourists visit Can Gio in October. (Photo: SGGP)
HCMC has now reached high vaccine coverage, achieving a 100 per cent rate of first-dose vaccination and over 90 percent of second-dose vaccination rate.
The city’s healthcare system has been also improved and ready for problems arising from the prevention and control of pandemic. The number of severe Covid-19 cases and deaths has continued to decline.
in addition, all travel businesses have to strictly comply with Covid-19 epidemic prevention regulations and meet the goal of 100 percent staff vaccinations. They must provide Covid-19 support helplines to visitors and arrange isolation room separate from other areas.
With a well-preparde plan, HCMC could meet the safety criteria to implement the pilot plan on receiving international vaccinated visitors, especially the peak tourist season at the end of the year with Christmas and New Year holidays, the lunar New Year and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions) events.