Favorable visa policy boosts tourism recovery: top tourism official

By VNA   March 18, 2024 | 07:57 pm PT
Favorable visa policy boosts tourism recovery: top tourism official
Foreign tourists at Hanoi's Train Street, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
Foreign arrivals number has been on track for full recovery since Vietnam opened its border two years ago on the back of a favorable visa policy, a top tourism official said.

Nguyen Trung Khanh, director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism said at a National Assembly session on Monday that the tourism sector has seen robust growth from the European market.

Markets with sound recovery in 2023 included Spain (91% of pre-pandemic levels), Germany (88%), the U.K. (80%), and France (75%), Khanh said.

He said in the first two months of this year, the number of tourist arrivals from the U.K. surged 32.6%, France 34.6%, Germany 37.1%, Spain 48.5%, and Italy 82.3% year-on-year.

Under the unilateral visa exemption that took effect on Aug. 15, 2023, all tourists from these markets have had their visa-free stay in Vietnam extended to 45 from 15 days.

Vietnam now waives visas for travelers from 25 countries, with 13 enjoying unilaterally exemption.

Most recently, the prime minister directed competent authorities to study and recommend favorable policies on immigration, expansion of unilateral visa exemptions, and pilot grant of visa at border gates, he said.

Le Cong Nang, CEO at WonderTour, proposed the government expand unilateral visa exemption for citizens from countries with a higher level of economic development, especially western countries, as well as offer short-term free visa for markets with large source of tourists like China and India.

He described the expansion of visa waiver as an invitation for foreigners, helping lure more international tourists to Vietnam.

The sector is expecting a full recovery this year and reach the levels in 2019 – the time before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, aiming to welcome 18 million international visitors, 110 million domestic travelers, and gain VND840 trillion (US$33.96 billion) in tourism revenues.

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