Vang Vieng, Lao PDR

Vietnam proposes tourism travel bubbles within ASEAN

A Vietnam Airlines plane lands at the Tan Son Nhat Airport, HCMC, June 15, 2020.
Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

Vietnam has suggested ASEAN to research safe “tourism travel bubbles” within the region amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Specifically, Vietnam wants ASEAN to research “travel bubbles” between “green countries” as a preliminary initiative in opening borders and forming safe travel zones, said Nguyen Manh Tien, deputy head of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee. He made the remarks at a Wednesday meeting of the Committee on Economic Matters of the 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA 41).

“Tourism travel bubbles” would include specialized air routes to tourism sites in member countries, Tien explained. It means people traveling from and to different destinations are tested to make sure they are not infected with the novel coronavirus, and that they would visit only those tourism sites before returning, using transport within a closed loop. “Green countries” are defined as those that ensure certain green coverage and use organic products, Tien said.

The Covid-19 pandemic is not only a medical crisis, but a crisis in development when international trade and supply chains are broken, Tien stated. Southeast Asia’s GDP growth this year is expected to drop to negative 2.7 percent, as opposed to an increase of 4.4 percent last year, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

“The Vietnamese delegation wants the ASEAN community to agree on executing a series of breakthroughs and possible solutions, first to enhance information exchange regarding tourism, health and other necessary methods to control the spread of Covid-19,” he added.

Also at the meeting, Vietnam suggested hastening the ratification of trade agreements within the region, including completing negotiations and signings of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) within 2020. Increasing the capacity and participation of parliamentary oversight regarding the implementation of trade and investment commitments within the regional and international framework was also tabled.

As the coronavirus pandemic ravages the globe, countries and territories have deployed different measures to curb its spread, including international travel restrictions. Vietnam, for example, had already suspended international flights since late March.

As Vietnam began to bring the Covid-19 outbreak under control, talks of resuming international flights took off. Most recently, Vietnamese aviation authorities have prepared detailed plans for resuming commercial flights to Guangzhou, Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei, Cambodia, and Laos starting September 15.

Passengers arriving in Vietnam must have been in these Asian destinations for at least 30 days prior to boarding their flights, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV). Transit passengers will not be allowed in.

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