The Vietnamese government has green-lighted several proposals, including waiving visas for more nations, to revive the country’s troubled tourist industry.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) and the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism have repeatedly called on the government to enact measures to ‘save’ the tourist industry, which has reported declining tourist arrival numbers for 12 months in a row, since May 2014.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung approved many propositions of the two agencies during a government meeting late last month, bringing about hopes that Vietnam would soon be able to lure back international visitors.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has proposed scrapping visas for countries that are Vietnam’s key tourism markets, or those it has strategic or comprehensive partnerships with, which has secured in-principle approval from the premier.
The countries that are likely to enjoy free-visa rules from Vietnam are the UK, France, Germany and Spain, which have strategic partnerships with Vietnam; and Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the Southeast Asian country’s comprehensive partners, according to newswire Van Hoa (Culture) Online.
The visa waivers for the first group of countries are expected to take effect on July 1 this year, and the second group, July 1 next year, according to the VNAT director.
Vietnam currently applies one-sided free-visa rules for seven countries, including Japan, South Korea, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Russia, and scraps visas for nine Southeast Asian countries including Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines.
The waiver will be applied within five years, from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2020, with an allowed stay of 15 days for each entry.
Tourists from the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 72 percent of international arrivals to Vietnam, followed by Europe (14 percent) and North America, according to a VNAT survey. The government approval of the visa waiver proposal is seen by industry insiders as “an invitation to international tourists who love to explore Vietnam,” and a boost to the country’s tourism. Free-visa rules will encourage international vacationers to come to Vietnam, and having a non-stop service there is a plus, he said.