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Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City orders travel companies to suspend “vaccine tours”

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Flickr

Officials in Ho Chi Minh have ordered local travel companies to stop offering “vaccine tours” to the US, accusing operators of only selling 1-way tickets. The southern city’s Tourism Department claims there are hidden costs involved and travellers may even end up without a flight home.

So-called vaccine tours have become popular recently, as wealthy citizens whose countries are struggling with their own inoculation programmes opt to travel abroad. In Thailand, some citizens and expats have been known to avail of such tours, with the US being a popular destination given the success of the vaccine rollout there.

However, in Vietnam, travel operators have been offering “vaccine tours” that only include 1-way tickets, with no mention of a return ticket in any promotional literature. The tours are priced at up to US$7,000 (around 220,000 Thai baht) per person. Meanwhile, there is also no guarantee of qualifying for a vaccine, with the US Embassy saying eligibility is decided by health services in individual states.

Ho Chi Minh tourism officials say there is a lack of clarity around too many details, with the department’s director issuing a warning against vaccine tours.

“The vaccine tours are costly and only offer 1-way tickets, and information regarding vaccinations is vague, and there is no guarantee that the customer’s needs will be met.”

Vietnam’s borders have been closed since March 2020, with only rare exceptions made for repatriating citizens, foreign investors, and business travellers approved by the government. Repatriating Vietnamese must register with the embassy in their country and wait their turn for a repatriation flight.

The country has also increased its mandatory quarantine period from 14 to 21 days, as it battles a surge in infections linked to the so-called Indian variant. Vietnam has reported 6,356 cases and 46 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

SOURCE: TTR Weekly

 

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