In what some say is a blow to international tourism, Vietnamese businesses and citizens are divided on opening the country to international flights and tourists, with most of the world still in the grips of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Vietnamese government is under pressure from the airline industry, local hotels and resorts, travel agencies and other components of the travel industry pushing for a “limited” reopening. Proponents of reopening say that the country should consider resuming international flights with countries that have had no Covid-19 cases for at least 30 days.
Both Bamboo Airways and Vietnam Airlines have made plans to restart limited international flights from July 1st, if they are given government approval.
The business community seems to be almost evenly split, with some companies saying that Vietnam should reopen without further delays and that the resumption of international flights will reinvigorate companies and help the economy since Vietnamese companies can then resume exports.
Other business leasers believe that Vietnam should only reopen international air routes when the pandemic is contained globally, since the damage to the local economy will be catastrophic should the country have to lockdown again.
While business seem split on a 50 / 50 basis about whether the country should reopen, most Vietnamese remain opposed to reopening the country to international visitors.
Local publication, VnExpress, conducted a poll of 66,500 online readers about whether the country should reopen to international flights at this time, and 74% of the respondents replied that it was too early and that the country should take a “wait and see” attitude.
Vietnam suspended international commercial flights on March 25th and since that time only international flights with a special status, such as those repatriating Vietnamese citizens or bring in critical supplies to the country have received approval.
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen international arrivals to Vietnam fall 49% compared to last year, and many businesses in the travel industry have been negatively impacted. Airlines, hotels, ground transportation companies, travel agencies and multiple industry suppliers, as well as tourism sites and local governments have all suffered because of the pandemic.
Most companies involved in tourism now look at the domestic market to restart and sustain the industry for the time being, and organizations like the Tourism Advisory Board have taken a prominent role in providing industry opinions and guidance to government authorities.