Experts propose relaxing visa exemption policy for foreign tourists

By Doan Loan, Anh Tu   February 24, 2022 | 11:38 pm PT
Experts propose relaxing visa exemption policy for foreign tourists
Foreign tourists visit in Hanoi, February 2019. Photo by AFP
Tourism industry insiders want the government to consider waiving visas for nationals of more countries as Vietnam fully reopens its borders to visitors next month.

Luong Hoai Nam, member of the Tourism Advisory Board, speaking at a conference on Thursday, said the relaxation in the visa policy is necessary to attract more foreign tourists to the country.

He suggested that the government should waive visas for visitors from the European Union, Australia and New Zealand.

In the case of major tourism markets like China and the U.S., the government also needs to consider long-term visas of up to 10 years to attract visitors from there, he said.

"Now it is difficult for us to attract foreign tourists unlike before the pandemic, and many tourists will refuse to return to Vietnam if the country requires a visa while many regional countries have relaxed visa polices."

Before the pandemic, Vietnam did not require visas for travelers from 24 countries, compared to Thailand's 61, Singapore's 158, Malaysia's 155, and Indonesia's 169.

Tran Dinh Thien, a member of the prime minister's economic advisory group, also said the government should waive visas for visitors from Vietnam’s major tourism markets to help the travel industry rebound quickly.

Bui Minh Dang of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam said some foreign carriers have sought to resume flights to tourist destinations in central Vietnam from next month and this is a positive sign for the travel industry.

In the best case, the aviation industry expects to carry 42-43 million passengers this year, equivalent to 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels, including around six million foreign tourists, he added.

Vietnam has resumed commercial flights to 20 out of 28 countries and territories it normally flies to.

Ha Van Sieu, deputy head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said Vietnam has received 9,000 foreign arrivals since November last year as the country partially reopened international tourism.

This year, Vietnam has set a target of welcoming five to six million foreign tourists.

In 2019, the year before the onset of the pandemic, the country welcomed a record of 18 million foreign tourists.

From March 15, Vietnam will reopen inbound and outbound tourism under new normal conditions, with foreign tourists allowed to visit the country without booking tour packages.

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