HCMC wants tourist visas granted faster

By Tu Nguyen    November 17, 2023 | 07:52 pm PT
HCMC wants tourist visas granted faster
Spanish tourists drink beer on Bui Vien Street in HCMC, August 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Tung Tin
Tourism authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have asked the Immigration Department to shorten tourist visa approval times so the local travel industry can better compete with Vietnam’s neighbors.

In a tourism development report issued earlier this week, the municipal Department of Tourism said that although Vietnam has begun issuing three-month tourist visas for citizens of all countries and territories, complicated and time-wasting procedures still cause long wait times for visa approvals and issuance.

According to some travel companies specializing in inbound tourism, foreign tourists applying for three-month visas to Vietnam still wait five to seven days for approval.

Both foreign travelers in Vietnam and international tour operators have complained for years that difficulties with Vietnam's online visa issuance process have forced them to go through costly brokers, or visit other countries instead.

"This leads to the number of visitors from key markets still bearing high costs and wasting a lot of time for their visas to be approved, so they will gradually move to other markets that compete directly with Vietnam in the future," the report says.

Compared to other Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam exempts visas for too few countries.

Vietnam waives visas for nationals of 25 countries, while Malaysia and Singapore do so for 162, the Philippines for 157, and Thailand for 65.

Foreign arrivals to Ho Chi Minh City reached 4.12 million from January to October this year, or 82% of the set target of five million.

Vietnam welcomed 1.11 million international tourists in October, making the fourth consecutive month that the country has served more than 1 million foreign visitors, according to the Vietnam National Authority of Tourism.

The total number of international travelers to the country reached nearly 10 million over the first ten months, exceeding the initial target of 8 million for the whole year.

During a recent conference chaired by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung called for short-term visa waivers for major markets like China and India, as well as expanded unilateral visa exemptions for visitors from "wealthy" countries like Australia, Canada, the U.S. and the remaining 20 members of the E.U.

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