By Ngoc Dan – Translated by Kim Khanh
The Hanoitimes – Local hospitality businesses need to collect, update and report to the tourism authorities about the number of foreign guests who are forced to stay at their facilities due to reasons beyond their control.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) has asked local tourist accommodations to exempt and reduce room charges for foreign tourists who are stuck in Vietnam due to the coronavirus pandemic, until the Ministry of Transport can arrange flights to send them home.
|Foreign tourists wearing face masks in Hoi An, Quang Nam province. (Photo: To Quoc)|
Earlier, the VNAT had requested the provincial authorities to urgently check and list foreign tourists who are stuck in the localities due to border closures and flight suspension. These foreigners are passengers who may be in quarantine, stranded due to flight suspension or in transit to a third country which closed its borders.
The provincial authorities will report to the Ministries of Transport and Foreign Affairs about the number of foreign tourists, their departure points in Vietnam and countries/territories where the tourists come from.
During this stay-at-hotel period, tourist accommodations are required not to organize buffet and cater for guests right inside the room, supervise guest health and take measures to ensure the safety of guests and employees. They should remind guests to refrain from going out, make mandatory medical declarations, regularly check body temperature, wear face masks and keep a two-meter distance from each other when in contact.
In late March, the Vietnam’s Immigration Department has also facilitated procedures for extension of temporary residence for foreigners who are unable to leave the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Accordingly, foreigners who entered Vietnam with a visa waiver or tourist visa (including electronic visas) and who have their resident permits expired but do not have any sponsoring entity and cannot leave due to reasons beyond their control may seek their embassies or consulate general sponsorship for their extension of temporary residence for a maximum of 30 days while awaiting departure, and submit their application at the Vietnam Immigration Department. The policy remains effective until April 30.
Foreign individuals who entered Vietnam for business, visiting relatives or other purposes, should contact their sponsors (agencies, organizations or individuals) according to the Law on Entry, Exit, Transit and Residence of Foreigners in Vietnam for residence extension.
Persons who have exceeded their valid temporary residence period for less than 10 days due to situations of force majeure (with documented evidence) may be considered for exemptions from administrative sanctions.
The Hanoitimes – The association urged the government to gradually open borders for the resumption of international flights to markets that have put the pandemic under control, including the Europe, Australia, India, China, South Korea and Japan.
Vietnam Aviation Business Association (VABA) has proposed the government to provide a credit aid package worth VND25-27 trillion (US$1.07-1.16 billion) to support the aviation industry that has been under serious impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic.
|The aviation industry is among the hardest-hit sectors by the pandemic. Photo: Pham Hung|
This is the third time that VABA has sought such support from the state since the first Covid-19 outbreak in early 2020.
According to VABA, while the credit package would help enterprises improve their financial capabilities, government agencies should continue considering extending deadline of debt payment for enterprises in the aviation industry until the end of 2024.
VABA also referred to suggestion from local enterprises for keeping existing supporting programs of reducing take-off, landing charges and navigation services fees, as well as policies for workers affected by the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the association urged the government to gradually open borders for resumption of international flights to major markets that have put the pandemic under control, including the Europe, Australia, India, China, South Korea and Japan.
“The Ministry of Transport should carry out study to assess the impacts of the pandemic on the development of the aviation industry in both short- and long-term, which would serve as a basis to reform the state administration in this field accordingly,” stated VABA.
VABA asked competent authorities to keep up with the efforts of reforming administrative procedures and allow airlines to be flexible in operation, including launching new services and domestic tourism stimulus program, and promoting tourism activities.
The national aviation industry was among the hardest-hit sectors by the pandemic last year, with the passengers volume suffering a plunge of 43% year-on-year to 66 million and 15% in cargo handling to 1.3 million tons.
In the past year, the government has been providing a series of support for the aviation industry, including waiving fees related to outstanding government-guaranteed loans for local airlines, and reduce 50% of take-off and landing charges, as well as air navigation service fees for domestic flights.
Airlines are also given permission to offer price of zero for air transportation services not included in the list of services under state management.
Last November, the National Assembly (NA) approved the government’s proposal to help ease Vietnam Airlines’ financial difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under its resolution, the NA agreed to allow the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), the country’s central bank, to provide refinancing loans worth VND12 trillion (US$518.57 million) for Vietnam Airlines to maintain its operation.
The Hanoitimes – Vietnam is expected to adopt “travel bubble” scheme with countries and territories where the coronavirus outbreak is under control.
The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) has proposed the Ministry of Transport consider gradually reopening commercial international air routes from the end of July as part of measures to restore the economy, according to VnExpress .
Vietnam aviation authorities proposed gradually reopening commercial international air routes from the end of July as part of measures to restore the economy. Photo: Vietnam Airlines
Vietnam will create a “travel bubble” among countries which are putting the coronavirus under control and going through 30 days without reporting infection.
Under the travel bubble scheme, the countries allow the entry of their citizens or foreign nationals with residence and business cards, technical experts, and students. Once in the country, they have to be isolated for 14 days at home or at paid facilities indicated by the local governments. Those undergoing home isolation will be strictly monitored by technology.
However, the agency also recommended that the borders should be reopened to foreign tourists as well, provided that they meet the requirements on Covid-19 prevention before entry.
Accordingly, travelers to Vietnam, who have been in any local infection free country or territory at least 30 consecutive days prior to the flight could be allowed to enter, except for transit passengers. In addition, they must have a coronavirus negative certificate issued within 3 days before the departing flight date.
Upon arrival at Vietnamese airports, passengers would be subjected to rapid coronavirus testing, the expenses of which are paid by the airline. Passengers on entry must stay at locations ordered by local governments and pay fee.
In order to implement the above plan, the CAAV suggested that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should discuss with the diplomatic missions to unify the coordination of regular aviation activities.
Dinh Viet Thang, head of the CAAV, said that some Taiwanese airlines have proposed to resume flights to Vietnam.
Domestic carriers also plan air reconnection with foreign destinations from July 1, if authorized by the government. As normally, international routes contribute mainly to total revenue of Vietnamese airlines. For Vietnam Airlines alone, the figure is up to 60% of its total revenue before Covid-19.
The CAAV said that some countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have opened their borders to each other, creating opportunities for businesses to reopen. Visitors from outside the bloc are still required to isolate themselves for 14 days upon entry.
At a government meeting on June 24, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered increasing the frequency of international flights to bring investors, experts, skilled workers into Vietnam as well as sending Vietnamese people abroad to work and study.
All experts, high-skilled workers, and investors are allowed to enter Vietnam with an appropriate isolation protocol. However, the country has not opened its doors to tourists.
Basing on international and regional situation of Covid-19, the government is considering resuming international commercial flights and the date will be studied by the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control.
Vietnam Airlines case
As Vietnam Airlines is among the companies hardest hit by the ongoing pandemic, the national air carrier is forecast to face a loss of over VND15 trillion (US$645.5 million) and a cash shortfall of some VND16 trillion (US$688.5 million).
Eariler, Vietnam Airlines proposed the government to lend a maximum of VND12 trillion (US$509 million) at a preferential interest rate to help the air carrier overcome serious impacts caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
If the corporation does not receive financial support from the government, its operating capital will be exhausted in August, Chief Accountant of Vietnam Airlines Tran Thanh Hien said at a meeting on June 18.
The national air carrier also proposed issuance of shares for its existing shareholders to raise capital, in which the government will use its capital or assign State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) or other state-run enterprises to buy its new shares. The scale of issuance will be equivalent to VND12 trillion (US$509 million).
The Hanoitimes – The Vietnamese government and aviation industry are trying to find ways to reopen some international routes soon.
According to an announcement by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), from June 16 to September 16, Vietnam has not granted permission for inbound flights, except for specific cases, Zing reported.
|Vietnam has not granted permission for inbound flights, except for specific cases. Photo: Vietnam Airlines.|
Specific cases include entry for diplomatic and official purposes, experts, business executives and highly qualified workers and those cases specified by the National Steering Committee for the Covid-19 Prevention and Control.
The committee has recently stressed the importance of continuing tightening the control of border lines and people on entry so as to prevent the pandemic from spreading in the community.
According to Luong Hoai Nam, member of the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), reopening international routes should not be a one-way move. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should negotiate the air travel resumption on mutual basis between Vietnam and the counterpart countries.
An aviation expert said the reopening of international air routes in July is very unlikely as negotiations between Vietnam and other countries on the issue have not been finalized yet.
Meanwhile, the government and aviation enterprises are trying to find ways to resume air travel soon.
Governments of Vietnam and South Korea, Japan and China are discussing step-by-step reconnection of air services based on the demand of each side as well as in compliance with measures to prevent the outbreak of Covid-19, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement on June 18.
Vietnamese air carriers announced on June 14 plans to reopen international routes to destinations where the pandemic is under control from July 1, if authorized by the government.