Western tourists wanting to come back don’t hold on to quarantine rules

Peter Scott, an Australian from Queensland, was happy to hear that the Vietnamese government plans to reopen the famous resort island to vaccinated foreign tourists from next month after nearly two years of national borders being closed.

“This is the best news I have heard in the past 18 months. I will wait a few more weeks to return to Vietnam.”

Scott said he had been to Phu Quoc four times before and was impressed by the beauty of the long sandy beaches, peaceful fishing villages and the bustling night market.

“It’s a truly beautiful island. A local took me to visit fishing villages and taste seafood.”

But the foreigners who VnExpress International respondents were also unanimous that quarantine requirements would be a factor influencing the decision to travel to the Mekong Delta island.

Their concern was that although Vietnamese authorities agreed to reopen the island, they did not say whether fully vaccinated visitors would be exempt from the 14-day quarantine or whether the period would be shortened.

Scott said he was vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. But he would reconsider his plan to visit Phu Quoc if he were to be quarantined.

“No tourist will accept being stuck in a hotel for a vacation after traveling on a long-haul flight,” he said.

George Smith, a 58-year-old British citizen, said he planned to visit Phu Quoc in late October, but was still awaiting official information from Vietnamese authorities to see if he would be quarantined on arrival or no.

“I have received two doses of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine and by the end of this year I will likely receive the booster in the UK. And even after receiving both doses I stay away from group gatherings and I’m very careful around other people, ”Smith said.

“Personally, I love Vietnam and two years ago when I visited HCMC I thought to myself that I would come back and travel north to south. This time I want to visit Phu Quoc Island”, did he declare.

But, he added: “I don’t want to be quarantined or stuck on an island for a long time. I want to explore your beautiful country. I think the government should exempt vaccinated tourists from quarantine as they are not. basically no longer a Covid threat. “

Mohan Ponnudurai, an American living in Florida, said he had traveled to Vietnam several times and once he and his wife visited Phu Quoc Island, which he described as “a paradise. being born “which, according to him, will become the next Bali.

Ponnudurai, who has received two injections of the Pfizer vaccine since April, wants to return to Phu Quoc but has said he will not travel there with the current Covid restrictions.

“No one would want to be confined or confined to the resort town while on vacation,” he said.

He also said that “I don’t think most countries in Southeast Asia would be wide open until the Delta variant is under control and at least 50% of the population is vaccinated.”

Share similar concerns

Local travel agencies were also concerned that the imposition of long quarantine periods would discourage foreign tourists from visiting Vietnam.

Pham Ha, chairman of Lux Group, which specializes in providing luxury travel services to foreign tourists in Vietnam, said customers said they wanted to enjoy trips without quarantine and did not want to be locked in a resort for a week or so. more. .

They say they would not come to Vietnam if they were to be quarantined, Ha said.

From October to May next year is the winter breakout season for European tourists, Ha suggested that the Vietnamese tourism industry focus on markets like UK, Germany, France and Spain. In Asia, Singapore and South Korea could be considered.

To immediately attract tourists, Ha advised focusing on charter passengers from the Russian market, as Phu Quoc has been a favorite destination for Russians for years.

A Hanoi-based tourism expert, who asked to remain anonymous, said more than 70% of foreign tourists to Phu Quoc hope to travel to more places, instead of being limited to a few areas around the resorts.

“The reopening of Phu Quoc Island is a necessary step to revive the tourism industry; however, one should not set high expectations,” said the expert.

After two years of closing its borders to contain the pandemic, Vietnam decided last week to allow fully immune tourists from Europe, the United States, Northeast Asia, Australia and the Middle -Orient to go to Phu Quoc from October.

During the first three months of the six-month trial program, tourists can only reach the island on charter flights and are expected to stay in sequestered areas of resorts or selected destinations.

Travel agencies and tourism experts have previously estimated that such strict measures would prevent foreign tourists from returning to Phu Quoc, as no one wanted to spend a lot of money to be quarantined at a hotel / resort and only visit local people. limited areas.

Phu Quoc, Vietnam’s largest island, gained popularity after the government implemented a 30-day visa waiver policy for foreigners in 2014.

In 2019, before the onset of the current pandemic, it received more than five million visitors, including 541,600 foreigners.

If the Phu Quoc sandbox program starts in October, it will become the first locality in Vietnam to welcome foreign tourists since April 2020.

Vietnam’s tourism industry has experienced one of the most difficult times in its history under the impacts of Covid-19. Last year, the number of foreign arrivals plunged almost 80% to 3.8 million.

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