Vietnam is working on a scheme to grant electronic visas for foreign visitors in a bid to attract more tourists to the country and boost the domestic tourism industry.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told tourism development conference on Tuesday that the government has allocated VND200 billion ($8.8 million) to speed up the project so that the e-visa system can be launched on January 1, 2017.
Phuc asked the ministries of finance, public security and foreign affairs to determine e-visa fees and ensure foreign tourists are warmly welcomed upon arrival.
The e-visas will be issued to applicants in a printer-friendly email after they fill out an online application form. This system is believed to greatly speed up the entire visa process, according to Kenneth Atkinson, chairman of the Tourism Working Group under the Vietnam Business Forum, a consortium of international and local business associations and chambers of commerce.
Currently, a Vietnamese tourist visa may be obtained upon arrival at the country's international airports, but that involves long queues, or via a Vietnamese embassy or consulate.
Vietnam has a visa waiver or exemptions for citizens of 22 countries and territories, far less than Malaysia (164), the Philippines (157), Indonesia (45) and Thailand (52).
Last month, in an attempt to attract more visitors, Vietnam renewed the 15-day visa waiver policy for citizens of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and Italy for another year.
The government’s strategy aims to attract 10 million -10.5 million international visitors with tourism revenue reaching $18 billion-$19 billion, equivalent to 6.5 percent-7 percent of GDP, per year by 2020.
In the first seven months of this year, Vietnam received 5.55 million foreign tourists, a 24 percent rise on-year.
In 2016, Vietnam hopes to welcome 8.5 million foreign tourists, up about 6 percent from 2015. Tourism revenue is expected to hit more than $16 billion, up around 9 percent year on year, according to data from the General Statistics Office.