Tourism insiders call for new visa policy clarity

By Hoang Phong, Xanh Le   August 9, 2023 | 12:01 am PT
Tourism insiders call for new visa policy clarity
Foreign tourists at Bach Dang Wharf Park in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, December 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Just a week before new visa rules take effect on August 15, there has not been detailed information about the new policy announced, prompting tourism experts to call for authorities to take prompt action.

As of August 9, there have not been any updates on the new policy on the website of the Vietnam Immigration Portal, which is the official source of information and application for e-visas.

This means that many foreigners who are waiting for the new policy to take effect are still in the dark about the details and procedures of the new e-visa system.

"I think this is an unfortunate situation that could have been avoided with better communication. The lack of information and updates on the new policy creates confusion and uncertainty for foreign tourists and travel firms who want to prepare for their plans to visit or operate in Vietnam," Martin Koerner, head of a tourism working group at the Vietnam Business Forum, told VnExpress International.

He said Vietnam should soon issue official guidelines on the new policy and update its website so that foreign tourists and travel firms can have a clear and reliable source of information on the e-visa system.

"This would help them to plan ahead and avoid any potential problems or delays when applying for or using the e-visa. It would also demonstrate Vietnam's commitment and readiness to implement the new policy smoothly and efficiently."

Miquel Angel, CEO of the MQL sustainable travel solutions company, said no domestic agency or international partner knew the requirements or necessary procedures about the new visa extension policy so far.

"It is not difficult to plan properly, draft a correct implementation and work towards a positive result, none observed at the moment. Vietnam is losing time again," Miquel added.

Dr. Nuno Ribeiro, a member of EuroCham's tourism committee and Associate Senior Program Manager in Tourism and Hospitality at RMIT Vietnam, said despite the positive impact of new policies on the tourism industry, the lack of official information about the new visa procedures could cause confusion among potential tourists and tour operators.

"This could lead to a decrease in the number of tourists visiting Vietnam and could ultimately harm the country's tourism industry," Ribeiro said.

He believes Vietnam's relaxation of visa restrictions is a positive step towards supporting the recovery of the country's tourism industry.

However, proper communication of information is crucial for realizing the benefits of these policies.

He urged the Vietnamese government to release accurate and timely information about the new policies to the public to prevent confusion.

Many foreigners need to know what will be the procedure for applying online, as well as prices for visas, and which countries will be added to the list, he said.

Vietnam received 6.6 million foreign arrivals in the first seven months this year, equivalent to 83% of the full year's 8-million target, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.

Industry insiders expect the visa extension policy will give Vietnam an advantage in the regional tourism race as some Southeast Asian countries have started tightening visa rules.

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