Tourism industry waits for visa breakthrough policies in May

By Xanh Le, Hoang Phong    April 1, 2023 | 12:00 am PT
Tourism industry waits for visa breakthrough policies in May
Foreign tourists pose for photos while watching fireworks performances in HCMC to celebrate the Lunar New Year, January 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
The government's proposal to ease via restrictions will create "a strong boost" for the tourism industry and the entire economy if approved by the National Assembly next May, according to tourism insiders.

The government said it would propose to the National Assembly, Vietnam's highest legislative body, that it extend the duration of e-visas granted to foreigners entering Vietnam from 30 days to a maximum of three months.

The government proposal also includes extending the duration of stays for tourists from countries enjoying 15-day visa exemptions to 30 days, and providing e-visas to all countries instead of the current 80.

Phan Dinh Hue, director of travel firm Vong Tron Viet, said the current biggest obstacle for the tourism industry is visa restrictions.

If the government proposals are passed at the next National Assembly session, this would be "a turning point" for the tourism industry after a long slowdown, he said.

"A boost to the tourism industry can create ripples for the whole economy," Hue added.

Hue said Vietnam should follow the example of Thailand and Indonesia and expand visa exemptions for potential tourism markets to boost tourist spending.

While Thailand received over 6 million foreign tourists in the first quarter of this year, Vietnam only received 2.67 million during the same period.

Between October and April is always the peak travel season of Western tourists seeking a winter escape. However, the number of European tourists to Vietnam in the first months of this year remains low.

Therefore, extending the visa-free stay to 30 days for tourists from Europe is a right step, Hue added.

Now, visitors from some European countries, Japan and South Korea, Vietnam's top tourism markets, are permitted to stay in the country for 15 days without applying for a tourist visa.

Vietravel Chairman Nguyen Quoc Ky said he hoped the visa relaxation policies would be approved by the National Assembly at the next session in May to give the tourism industry a "strong boost."

Sun Group Chairman Dang Minh Truong said the processes should be shortened so that the visa relaxation proposals are approved in one session and could thus be effective immediately before the summer travel season.

Insiders said the tourism industry is waiting for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to submit a list of countries eligible for the visa exemption policy.

Vietnam already waives visas for travelers from 25 countries, compared to 162 for Malaysia, 157 for the Philippines and 68 for Thailand. It also offers a one-month single-entry e-visa to visitors from 80 countries.

Despite being one of the first Southeast Asian countries to fully reopen to international tourism post Covid, Vietnam received only 3.6 million foreign tourists last year, around 20% of the pre-pandemic figure.

This year, Vietnam aims to receive 8 million foreign visitors.

go to top