Vietnam, Thailand to exchange tourists

The tourism authorities of Vietnam and Thailand will discuss the exchange of tourists between the two countries in the coming days to help the tourism industry recover in the new normal.

Vietnam will welcome the first group of tourists from Thailand in December after a prolonged suspension of international tourism, induced by the pandemic, and will expand the exchange in the coming months, Nguyen Trung Khanh, head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), said on November 30 at the 2021 national tourism forum.

“Thailand has succeeded in applying a sandbox program in Phuket, so the two countries’ tourism authorities can quickly work with each other to exchange tourists,” he said. Under this sandbox program, fully vaccinated Thai and foreign travelers can travel to Phuket without mandatory quarantine but they must stay there for at least 7 nights before they can visit other destinations in Thailand.

At the forum on developing solutions to Vietnam’s sustainable tourism recovery, many travel firms said that the country’s tourism authority should cooperate with several countries, mainly in Southeast Asia, to bring foreign tourists back to the country under the travel bubble model.

Nguyen Quoc Ky, chairman of Vietravel Holdings, said that Thailand has worked with 30 countries to exchange tourists, while Singapore is doing that with 10 nations. As such, Vietnam might cooperate with Singapore to pilot the travel bubble model to receive visitors from the latter.

Speaking of the pilot program to reopen the borders to international tourists, the representative of VNAT noted that since the first flight was launched to transport international tourists to Vietnam on November 17, over 970 international tourists have arrived in Vietnam with a COVID-19 vaccine passport.

“This is a good sign for Vietnam’s tourism industry during the recovery period. This is the first time after nearly 19 months the tourism sector has seen international guests arriving,” Khanh said.

Nguyen Quy Phuong, head of the Travel Department under VNAT, said that the department is keeping a close watch on the new Omicron coronavirus variant to make suitable policy recommendations for tourism programs, including those implemented by Kien Giang, Quang Nam, Danang, Khanh Hoa and Quang Ninh, which are allowed to pilot resuming inbound travel services.