Vang Vieng, Lao PDR

Singapore, Vietnam discussing ways to prepare for resumption of travel for business and to ‘selected’ tourism sites

Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan’s call on Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh. (Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore)

Singapore and Vietnam are discussing ways they can prepare to “gradually and safely” resume business travel and travel to “selected tourist sites”, said Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Wednesday (Jun 23).

Dr Balakrishnan said this will “hopefully” be done by the end of the year. The minister was wrapping up his four-day visit to Hanoi. It marked the first visit to Vietnam by a Singapore minister since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While both countries share a “very similar” tactical approach to COVID-19, the key difference lies in their vaccination progress, said Dr Balakrishnan.

“We are very fortunate in Singapore, because our vaccination programme is well underway, whereas (in Vietnam), they still need to source more vaccines from overseas in order to roll out vaccinations,” he said.

“But the key thing first is Vietnam needs some time to step up its vaccination programme so we will wait for them to be ready,” he added.

“But in the meantime, we are working at the staff level to resolve things like mutual recognition of vaccine certificates, testing as well … and to build up the level of confidence in each other’s systems. This is essential before we open up.”

As of Jun 21, Singapore has administered more than 5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Ministry of Health’s website. More than 2.9 million people have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

When asked if there were any benchmarks that have to be achieved before resuming leisure travel between the two countries, Dr Balakrishnan said no specific thresholds have been defined and that Vietnam is being “very careful” as they need to step up their vaccination programme.

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