Foreign companies urge visa relaxation to boost tourism

By Hoang Phong   February 22, 2023 | 11:12 pm PT
Foreign companies urge visa relaxation to boost tourism
Foreigners walk inside Tao Dan Park in HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Foreign-invested firms have called on the Vietnamese government to ease visa restrictions and improve airport infrastructure to turn Vietnam into an attractive tourist destination.

Alain Cany, chairman of EuroCham, said at a meeting with HCMC top leaders on Wednesday that the country should extend its visa-free stays from the current 15 to 30 days for all European visitors as tourism is a key for economic development in the southern metropolis, Thanh Nien newspaper reported.

Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, and Sweden are currently the European countries whose citizens are permitted to enter Vietnam without having to obtain a tourist visa for stays of up to 15 days.

Eurocham also made this request regarding visa exemption for all EU members in its White Book released on Feb. 16.

At the meeting, some foreign investors suggested the government resume its multi-entry three-month visa policy that was available before Covid, as Vietnam now offers just a one-month single-entry e-visa to visitors from 80 countries.

In addition to visa policy, airport infrastructure is also a concern of foreigners.

Eurocham has received many complaints from visitors about their unsatisfactory experiences at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCMC, as they have to wait for hours to board their flights, Cany says as cited by Phap Luat newspaper.

Despite being the country’s busiest airport, the airport has no special lanes for business class passengers, investors, or participants at MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) events.

James Ollen, executive director of AmCham in HCMC, said limited infrastructure has hindered manufacturing and tourism activities in the southern economic hub.

He suggested the city should improve transport infrastructure and simplify procedures to attract foreign tourists.

Michael D'Ercole, president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, proposed the city improve its living environment to attract more investors and tourists from Europe.

Despite being one of the first Southeast Asian countries to fully reopen, Vietnam only received 3.6 million foreign tourists last year, around 20% of pre-pandemic levels. This year it is targeting 8 million arrivals.

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