HCMC Travel agents to offer Vaccination Vacations
In 2019 Vietnam welcomed 18 million international visitors. Since the outbreak of Covid-19 that number has been restricted to a handful of experts. To say that the Vietnamese tourist industry has been ‘hard hit’ is somewhat of an understatement.
But of course, Vietnamese resilience is well known and now travel agencies are taking the first steps down the road to recovery. On May 22 it was announced that a travel agent based in Ho Chi Minh City has started offering ‘vaccine tours’ to a number of US states where foreign visitors are permitted to receive a Covid-19 vaccination. And other agencies are likely to follow suit in the coming months.
With access to vaccines still restricted in Vietnam, the option of a ‘vaccination vacation’ is likely to appeal to expat residents and wealthy Vietnamese, particularly those who could combine the ‘tour’ with visiting family in the U.S. However, there are still questions about how easy it will be to return to Vietnam as commercial flights continue to be limited and a 21 day quarantine is currently required.
At present, the 8 - day vaccination tour is being advertised at a price of VND 45,000,000 ($1,950). This includes 3-star accommodation and a dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines where two injections are required, the Johnson & Johnson jab only requires a single dose to be 66% effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19. This makes this particular vaccine suitable for distribution on the short trip to America.
A one-way ticket to selected US cities is also included in the package, but the cost of including a return fare is, as yet, unconfirmed. Estimates suggest that the total price could rise to VND 170,000,000 ($7,000) per person when the return flights and the additional costs of entry fees, quarantine upon arrival back in Vietnam and Covid-19 testing are included.
With Vietnam currently battling a fourth wave of Covid-19 cases, the deputy chairman of Vietnam Tourism Association Vu The Binh, stressed that people considering taking the tour would still be required to comply with pandemic protocols as regulated by the health ministry. With the Vietnamese government currently mandating a 21-day quarantine period for all arrivals into the country, that 8 -day tour suddenly takes up a month of your time.
However, entry into the U.S. is becoming less restricted as the country continues to roll out millions of vaccines to US citizens each day. In an effort to bring international visitors back to America, policies are being put in place to allow foreigners to also take advantage of their vaccination programme.
At present people over the age of 2 are able to enter the US if they can present a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival. These programmes have already seen travellers from Mexico, Canada and Thailand arrive in the US in order to get vaccinated.