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Asia Minute: Vietnam prepares for the slow return of international travelers

coronavirus covid-19 Vietnam ho chi minh
Hau Dinh/AP
The entrance to a beach is barricaded with a sign read in Vietnamese "Fight COVID-19 together, no beach activities" in Vung Tau, Vietnam, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Hau Dinh)

Vietnam is getting ready for international tourists.

But only in certain locations — and only if the visitors are vaccinated — and come from countries that have a relatively low risk of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, government officials said certain tourist spots will reopen in December — from the United Nations World Heritage site of Halong Bay in the north to the coastal city and popular diving spot of Nha Trang in the south.

The resort island of Phu Quoc will open for vaccinated travelers next month.

Tourism made up about 12% of Vietnam’s gross domestic product in the year before the pandemic.

Last year, foreign visitor arrivals plunged by nearly 80%.

A government statement said officials are “moving step by step, cautiously but flexibly to adapt to real situations of the pandemic.”

Just last week, Ho Chi Minh City started to loosen a three-month lockdown, but the commercial center is still not ready for international visitors.

One challenge for the entire country is the pace of vaccinations — just 13% of the overall population is fully vaccinated.

If that number continues to increase and infections stay relatively controlled, the government plans to open the entire country to international visitors in June of next year.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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